Frederic C. Hamilton -- the oil zillionaire whose name adorns the Daniel Libeskind-designed addition to the Denver Art Museum -- has been a longtime supporter of that institution. He has given the DAM tens of millions of dollars over the years and is currently Chairman Emeritus of the board, having served in various executive capacities on that body over the last several decades.
Now Hamilton is handing over his collection of 22 Impressionist paintings, which he acquired over the past forty years -- and which are worth tens of millions of dollars.
These Hamilton paintings are currently on display as part of Nature as Muse, which closes on February 9.
Though the DAM already owns some choice Impressionist pieces (which make up the rest of Nature as Muse), there were some real gaps that Hamilton is happily filling. This includes the first van Gogh to join the collection, as well as the first Cezanne, and there are also four Monets which will be added to the two the museum already owns. In the history of art you can't come by bigger names than those.
Nature as Muse gives viewers a good idea of how the gift is enhancing the Impressionist collection at the museum, making the DAM overnight into a significant repository in the American West of the cherished -- and super valuable -- style.
DAM director Christoph Heinrich has called the gift a "pivotal moment" in the museum's history. It will be interesting to see how these newly acquired pieces will be integrated into the permanent collection after Nature as Muse comes down.
For more on the Hamilton gift, check out the January 16 issue of Westword.