New Latin American art coming to the Denver Art Museum

Antonio José Landaeta (active 1748-1799), Venezuela, Immaculate Conception (c. 1795). Oil on canvas. 75.6 x 47.6 cm (29 ¾ x 18 ¾ in.). Denver Art Museum. Promised gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros in honor of Frederick and Jan Mayer (Courtesy of Colección Cisneros)
Antonio José Landaeta (active 1748-1799), Venezuela, Immaculate Conception (c. 1795). Oil on canvas. 75.6 x 47.6 cm (29 ¾ x 18 ¾ in.). Denver Art Museum. Promised gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros in honor of Frederick and Jan Mayer (Courtesy of Colección Cisneros)
Antonio José Landaeta (active 1748-1799), Venezuela, Immaculate Conception (c. 1795).  Denver Art Museum. Promised gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros in honor of Frederick and Jan Mayer. (Courtesy of Colección Cisneros)

People in Denver will be able to see a significant amount of new colonial art at the Denver Art Museum thanks to a huge donation from the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros (CPPC). However, it may be quite some time before it’s on display to the public.

The donation includes 25 pieces of art, mainly from Venezuela and areas of the Caribbean. The paintings add to the Denver Art Museum’s Spanish Colonial art collection, which it describes as “the most comprehensive such collection in the United States and one of the best in the world.”

“The Denver Art Museum’s collection of Spanish colonial art is known as the most important of its kind in the United States, and in several areas its holdings are the most in-depth outside of the countries of origin. Nevertheless, the representation of works from the Caribbean and northern South America has been relatively meager,” said Jorge F. Rivas Pérez, an art historian and curator of DAM’s Frederick and Jan Mayer Curation of Spanish Colonial Art, in a news release.

“The works being donated to the Denver Art Museum were carefully chosen to complement its exemplary holdings,” Patricia Phelps de Cisneros said in the announcement. Cisneros and her husband Gustavo look to give a spotlight to Latin American art through their art collection.

What kind of art is the museum getting?

 The donated art collection includes six paintings which were created in the 17th and 18th centuries. One of the paintings portrays Saint Michael the Archangel, Saint Francis Xavier and Saint Francis of Assisi. The painter’s name is unknown, but the artist has become known as the “Painter from Tocuyo.” Tocuyo is located in western Venezuela.

Painter from El Tocuyo, Saint Michael the Archangel with Saint Francis Xavier and Francis of Assisi (1682). Oil and tempera on canvas. 86.4 x 59.1cm. Denver Art Museum. Promised gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros in honor of Carlos Duarte (Courtesy of Colección Cisneros)
Painter from El Tocuyo, Saint Michael the Archangel with Saint Francis Xavier and Francis of Assisi (1682). Oil and tempera on canvas. 86.4 x 59.1cm. Denver Art Museum. Promised gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros in honor of Carlos Duarte (Courtesy of Colección Cisneros)

Paintings aren’t the only form of art that were donated to the museum.

The Denver Art Museum also received a donation of 17 furniture items that were created in Venezuela, Mexico and the Andes area during the 18th and 19th centuries. One of those chairs is a cathedral throne that was carved in 1766 by Domingo Gutierrez. The chair was used in the Cathedral of Caracas in the Canary Islands and it was later painted and gilded by Juan Pedro Lopez.

“This is nothing less than a piece produced in collaboration by two of Caracas’ most important artists of the latter half of the 18th century,” Pérez stated.

Domingo Gutiérrez, Armchair for the Solium of the Caracas Cathedral (1766). Gilded and painted Spanish cedar, fabric upholstery. 116 x 60 x 49.5 cm. Denver Art Museum. Promised gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros in honor of Gustavo A. Cisneros (Courtesy of Colección Cisneros)
Domingo Gutiérrez, Armchair for the Solium of the Caracas Cathedral (1766). Gilded and painted Spanish cedar, fabric upholstery. 116 x 60 x 49.5 cm. Denver Art Museum. Promised gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros in honor of Gustavo A. Cisneros (Courtesy of Colección Cisneros)

Another piece was an 18th century wardrobe and chest of drawers. The wardrobe is one of the last pieces of furniture created in Cumaná that has been preserved. It was originally created to celebrate a marriage in 1799.

“It strengthens the museum’s current holdings, specifically from northern South America and the Caribbean, with many remarkable works coming from Venezuela,” Lemus said.

When can you see the new art?

The museum has yet to announce when the art will be available for public viewing, but some of the Spanish Colonial works will added to an upcoming exhibition.

Other pieces of the donation will be on display on the fourth floor of the museum’s North Building Project. The project is expected to be completed sometime in 2021.