British School, Henry VIII, about 1513. Oil paint on panel, housed in its original frame. Promised Gift of the Berger Collection Educational Trust.
The Denver Art Museum (DAM) announce Treasures of British Art: The Berger Collection, an exhibition showcasing more than 60 paintings recently gifted to the museum by the Berger Collection Educational Trust (BCET) in 2018. The BCET’s gift is the largest gift of European old masters to the DAM since the museum received the Kress Collection in the 1950s. Organized by the DAM and curated by Kathleen Stuart, curator of the Berger Collection at the DAM, the exhibition will present a chronological selection of works ranging from the 1400s through the late 1800s, telling the story of Britain’s rich cultural history.
Opening on free first Saturday, March 2, 2019, the exhibition will invite visitors to immerse themselves in the places, personalities and events that shaped a nation over the course of five centuries. Select works in this DAM-organized exhibition previously traveled to five museums nationwide in recent years.
“We are thrilled to honor the legacy of the collection’s founders—William M.B. and Bernadette Johnson Berger—with this historical exhibition,” said Christoph Heinrich, Frederick and Jan Mayer directors of the DAM. “The Berger Collection represents one of the most remarkable collections of British art in America. We are delighted to present this gift from the Berger Collection Educational Trust in a way that honors the Bergers’ intention for the collection—namely that it serves as an educational resource to teach visitors about British art and culture.”
Treasures of British Art will present 500 years of British cultural history through the stories of its people, captured by the enduring brilliance of artists of the time. The exhibition will feature devotional images, portraits, landscapes and sporting scenes by the greatest artists of the British School—including Thomas Gainsborough, Thomas Lawrence and John Constable—as well as non-British artists who spent significant time in Britain, such as the Flemish artist Anthony van Dyck and American artists Benjamin West and John Singer Sargent.
This exhibition will present groundbreaking results of recent research conducted on the collection’s renowned group
“We are immensely proud to present the results of this scholarly research undertaken by curators and conservators at the Yale Center for British Art, the Hamilton Kerr Institute at Cambridge University and the National Portrait Gallery in London,” said curator Stuart. “By employing state-of-the-art imaging techniques—digital x-radiography, infrared reflectography, ultraviolet fluorescence and X-ray fluorescence—the researchers uncovered new information about the artists, sitters and processes used to create some of the oldest and most important paintings in the collection.”
Beyond the groundbreaking forensic discoveries, visitors will be fascinated by the timeless relevance of artwork subjects featured in Treasures of British Art. The exhibition will display how international exchange influenced British art, history and culture. Visitors will recognize collection favorites such as The Radcliffe Family by Thomas Hudson and Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VI) by Hans Holbein and studio. Artworks rarely seen in recent years will also be on view, such as Papirius Praetextatus Entreated by His Mother by the Royal Academy founder Angelica Kauffman and Portrait of Three Girls by a follower of William Larkin. Not since the DAM’s 1999 landmark exhibition, 600 Years of British Painting will so many works from the Berger Collection be on view.
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