The Denver Art Museum (DAM) today announced a major gift of British masterworks from the Berger Collection Educational Trust (BCET), the largest gift of European Old Masters since the museum received the Kress Collection in the 1950s. The gift, consisting of 65 works, will enrich the museum’s collection of European art, currently strong in early Italian Renaissance and French 19th century artworks.
This donation is part of the DAM’s effort to strategically grow and enhance its encyclopedic collection in anticipation of its North Building’s 50th anniversary and revamped collection galleries set to reopen in 2021.
Core works from the trust have been on long-term loan since 1996, and the gift will now dramatically increase the DAM’s holdings of 14th through 19th century European art. Major genres important to the British School, including portraiture, landscape and equestrian subjects, represent the bulk of the BCET gift.
A selection of these works will be on view at the DAM beginning March 3, 2019 in Treasures of British Art: The Berger Collection, which has been organized by Kathleen Stuart, curator of the Berger Collection at the DAM.
“We are grateful to receive this important donation of British art from the Berger Collection Educational Trust, which will enable us to tell new stories with our collection,” said Christoph Heinrich, Frederick and Jan Mayer Director of the DAM. “Art inspires a greater understanding of and connection with our world, and we believe the acquired works will enhance and deepen the experiences of visitors into the future.”
Highlights of the BCET gift span six centuries of paintings, drawings and medieval works. One of the earliest gifted artworks is a 14th century Crucifixion, one of the best-preserved religious panel paintings of its period. Dorothy, Lady Dacre by Sir Anthony van Dyck and Portrait of a Lady by Sir Peter Lely represent significant works by two 17th century masters of portraiture. Notable 18th century works include Royal Academy founder Angelica Kauffman’s Papirius Praetextatus Entreated by His Mother, a Neoclassical work referencing Roman history, and Thomas Gainsborough’s Coastal Landscape.
Additional outstanding 19th century landscapes by Britain’s finest painters include Yarmouth Pier by John Constable and Nuneham by Edward Lear. The gift also includes superb paintings by John Singer Sargent, Sir Thomas Lawrence, George Stubbs and a group of works by Benjamin West.
“We’re delighted to integrate this significant gift into our collection of European art,” said Angelica Daneo, painting and sculpture curator at the DAM. “This is a transformational gift that complements and strengthens our existing holdings and allows us to offer our visitors a richer and broader narrative through focused and engaging juxtapositions, as well as educational programs and learning opportunities.”
The BCET gift is part of a larger donation that includes 12 Winslow Homer artworks that were donated to the Portland Museum of Art in Maine. To date, the gift made to the DAM and Portland Museum of Art is the largest donation made by the BCET in its two-decade history.
“William and Bernadette Berger were exceptionally committed to this city and community, to the arts, and to education,” said Arthur Lipper, Board Chairman of BCET. “With this gift, the BCET trustees are fulfilling not only the mission of the Trust but also the philanthropic intent of these visionary patrons. It is hoped the museum’s already excellent educational programs will be expanded.”
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About the Berger Educational Trust
The late William M.B. Berger and his wife, Bernadette Joan Johnson Berger, formed the Berger Collection of British art, which is property of the Berger Collection Educational Trust (BCET), created by Mr. Berger in 1999. The trust was established to sponsor educational activities related to the Berger Collection and British art, along with the people, culture and history the artworks portray. The collection has been administered by the Denver Art Museum, where a selection of artworks have been on display on a rotating basis. Artworks from the collection have been on view in institutions across America and abroad, including the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Yale Center for British Art, the British Library, the National Portrait Gallery, the Tate Gallery and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid.
The Denver Art Museum
The Denver Art Museum is an educational, nonprofit resource that sparks creative thinking and expression through transformative experiences with art. Its holdings reflect the city and region—and provide invaluable ways for the community to learn about cultures from around the world. Metro citizens support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), a unique funding source serving hundreds of metro Denver arts, culture and scientific organizations. For museum information, call 720-865-5000 or visit www.denverartmuseum.org.
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Image Credit Lines:
Hans Holbein the Younger and studio, Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VI), about 1538. Oil on panel; 22-¾ x 17 in. Promised gift of the Berger Collection Educational Trust, inv. TL-17310.
Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641), Dorothy, Lady Dacre, about 1633. Oil on canvas; 50 x 40 in. Promised gift of the Berger Collection Educational Trust, inv. TL-18887.
George Stubbs (1724–1806), A Saddled Bay Hunter, 1786. Oil on panel; 21-¾ x 27-¾ in. Promised gift of the Berger Collection Educational Trust, inv. TL-18021.Download PDF of press release.