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.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether you go or not, the exhibition guide, Glitterati: Portraits & Jewelry from Colonial Latin America, presents outstanding examples of painting, sculpture, furniture, decorative arts, silver and goldwork, and jewelry from all over Latin America during the time of the Spanish colonies. This lavishly illustrated publication serves as a companion to the Glitterati exhibition and, on a larger scale, to the collection of Spanish Colonial jewelry and portraiture at the Denver Museum of Art.