Treasures of British Art 1400–2000: The Berger Collection presents fifty masterworks from one of the most important private collections of British painting in the United States, housed at the Denver Art Museum. Spanning six centuries, the exhibition traces the unique and captivating development of painting in England from the medieval to modern eras, featuring devotional images, history paintings, portraits, landscapes, and sporting scenes by renowned artists including Anthony van Dyck, Thomas Gainsborough, Angelica Kauffman, John Constable, John Singer Sargent, and James McNeill Whistler.
Beginning in the sixteenth century, the arrival of foreign-born artists in England stimulated the development of new styles and subjects that reflected the achievements of painters on the European continent. Although history painting was esteemed as the highest art form throughout Europe and England, British artists particularly excelled at portrait painting, rendering their sitters with sensitivity and distinction. The sublime charms of the English landscape also inspired artists, as did the lively tradition of sporting art, which reached its greatest popularity in Britain.
This exhibition presents groundbreaking results of recent research conducted on the collection’s renowned group of portraits from the Tudor era. Among the findings: the portrait of Henry VIII is one of seven stylistically similar Tudor royal portraits that were likely all painted by the same artist. What’s more, five of these pictures – including the Berger Henry VIII – were found to have been painted on wood from the same tree.
The Berger Collection was begun by the late financier William M.B. Berger and his wife Bernadette Johnson Berger, who placed it on long-term loan to the Denver Art Museum in 1999.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website