During the Spanish Colonial period in Latin America (1521–1850), precious gold and silver were crafted into elegant jewelry then embellished with emeralds from Colombia, coral from Mexico, and pearls from Venezuela. Wanting to demonstrate their wealth and status, people were painted wearing their finest dress and elaborate jewelry.
Women were adorned with tiaras, necklaces with pendants, and prominent earrings. Men proudly displayed hat ornaments, rings, watch fobs, and chatelaines (decorative belt hooks) with small tools similar to the modern Swiss Army knife. Priests wore gold crucifixes and rosaries while nuns had miniature paintings of the Virgin Mary and saints crafted into brooches, called nun’s badges. Inlaid and lacquered chests and boxes were used to store these luxury goods.
The portraits, furniture, and jewelry that are exhibited in Glitterati, drawn from the DAM’s world-renowned Spanish Colonial collection, tell the fascinating story of people and luxury possessions in the New World.
A Companion Guide to the exhibition is available in The Shop and online.
News & Stories
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Portrait paintings are fascinating windows into history. They bring to mind many questions. Who was the person being painted? What do details in the paintings—such as inscriptions, clothing, jewelry, and decorative arts—tell us about the sitter and a particular point in time? What can we learn about the artist from the painting they created? The Denver Art Museum is currently offering numerous opportunities to explore the topic of portraiture. More