Museum Monday travels to Denver, Colorado this week with a museum experience at the Denver Art Museum. Located at the Cultural Center near the state capital, two buildings stretch across the downtown plaza, housing an eclectic mix of modern art and masterworks.
Denver Art Museum’s selection of Early British Portraiture concentrates on the Tudor and Jacobean era, 1500 through the early 1600’s. A close study reveals the life of turbulent politics, swiftly changing fashion and high infant mortality. Dominating this time are Tudor monarchs Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, represented in works by their court artists, Hans Holbein and Nicholas Hilliard. Their followers Hans Eworth, Robert Peake, Hieronimo Custodis and William Larkin are included, along with Dutch and Flemish emigre artists working in England also represented.
This portrait of Thomas Pead reflects the style of the times. As registrar of the archdeaconries of Norwich and Sudbury, Mr. Pead recorded births and deaths; the painting shows him with the quill and paper of his profession. His hand rests on a skull with the Latin inscription, “Take heed of the end,” a further reference to his work; this popular type of painting, known as a vanitas picture, urged the viewer to make the most of life because death comes to us all.
The portrait of Henry VIII’s only son, Edward (1537-1553), was painted when the boy was 14 months old. Although just a toddler, Hans Holbein portrayed him as a small adult, standing in an adult pose, wearing adult dress, his right hand raised in the gesture of an orator. It is a fitting image for the son and heir of one of the most powerful men in Europe.
Madonna and Child with Saints
Leonardo da Vinci spent many years in Milan, his art having a profound impact on the local artists. In this painting, the Virgin’s features and the grotto setting recall the Virgin of the Rocks, a painting Leonardo made for the same church. Bernardo Zenale depicted the Virgin and Child and the three saints all in a single painting. This was a departure from the medieval style of multi-panel altarpieces, which forced the artist to depict each saint on a separate panel. A special display covers the conservation and restoration of this painting.
Interactive museum and patron participation
The museum includes many interactive suggestions for patrons to participate in the exhibitions; telling a funny story about furniture in the decorative arts area to the Touch of the Brush kiosk. Using Dream of Arcadia by Thomas Cole, participants can zoom into the surface of the canvas, picking out small details in high magnification in order to study the use of color and other techniques of the artist. The detail can be small enough not to be visible when viewing the painting alone.
The latest technology from iPhone and Android incorporating mobile apps uncovers hidden layers of multimedia content on the artworks. Patrons are encouraged to leave their own thoughts to share with other visitors.