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Director Christopher Heinrich poses for a portrait with "A Painter at Work" by Paul Cézanne, in the Pass to Paris exhibition at the Denver Art Museum in Denver, Colo., Friday Jan. 10, 2014. The painting is one of 22 Impressionist masterworks being donated to the museum by Frederic C. Hamilton, a donation that will triple the museum’s holdings from the era. (AP Photo/The Denver Post, Craig F. Walker) MAGS OUT; TV OUT; INTERNET OUT; NO SALES; NEW YORK POST OUT; NEW YORK DAILY NEWS OUT
Denver Art Museum to acquire major paintings
First Published Jan 13 2014 06:13 pm • Last Updated Jan 13 2014 06:13 pm

Denver • The Denver Art Museum is acquiring 22 masterworks by the most revered names in French impressionism through a bequest from Colorado collector and philanthropist Frederic Hamilton.

The donation will triple the museum’s holdings from the era and give the museum its first pieces by Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cezanne and other noted late 19th-century artists, The Denver Post reported Monday.

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The 22 landscapes, including works by Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Eugene Boudin and Edouard Manet, are currently on loan to the museum and part of its "Passport to Paris" exhibits. The works will remain on display through Feb. 9, when they are returned to their owner. The museum will take possession officially when Hamilton dies.

The donation has not been formally appraised but could be worth as much as $100 million.

The museum best known for its contemporary, Native American and Western art now has the possibility of turning its fledgling impressionist holding into a world-class collection.

"This is a game-changing gift," said museum director Christoph Heinrich.

Earl Powell III, director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, said it would be a big deal for any museum to get the pieces.

Hamilton said his donation will fill a big gap in the museum’s impressionist collection.

Hamilton made his fortune in the oil business. He and his late brother Ferris launched Hamilton Brothers Drilling in 1950 and morphed it into a broad energy company with international operations.

Hamilton picked up pieces as they came available from private dealers and public sales. He said he purchased van Gogh’s "Edge of a Wheat Field with Poppies" at an auction because "it fit the right size in terms of where I wanted to put it in the house."

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