Today's Hours
Museum: 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Gardens: 7:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Today's Hours
Museum: 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Gardens: 7:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Gentleman
Gentleman
This beautifully delineated portrait with its play of darkness and light is by one of the great Northern European portraitists of the 18th century, Balthazar Denner. Though his birthplace was then within the Danish kingdom, it later became part of Hamburg and Denner is considered a German artist. The son of a Mennonite minister, he suffered an injury at age eight that left him lame for life. While convalescing, he began to sketch and copy paintings by Dutch masters which emphasized the chiaruscuro (play of darkness and light) popular in Rembrandts work. He eventually entered the Berlin Academy of Art and then began his career as a painter of miniatures. By the 1720s he had achieved international renown as a portrait painter, leading to invitations to work all over Europe, including Great Britain. One work was compared by critics to the Mona Lisa and purchased for Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor. After he had painted several portraits of the twelve-year-old Peter III of Russia to be sent to various European courts, the Czarina Elizabeth invited him to become official portraitist of the Russian court, but he declined, spending the rest of his life in the same small town in which he was born.