The Ascension

The Ascension

Benjamin West, American, 1738-1820
Work Locations: Italy, England
Oil paint on canvas
Accession Number
Credit Line
Gift of the Berger Collection Educational Trust

Benjamin West, The Ascension, 1801. Oil paint on canvas; 49 1/2 × 34 in. (125.7 × 86.4 cm). Gift of the Berger Collection Educational Trust, 2018.15

image height: 49 1/2 in, 125.7300 cm; image width: 34 in, 86.3600 cm; stretcher height: 50.125 in, 127.3175 cm; stretcher width: 34.625 in, 87.9475 cm; frame height: 63 3/16 in, 160.4963 cm; frame width: 47 5/8 in, 120.9675 cm; frame depth: 4 7/8 in, 12.3
European and American Art Before 1900
European Painting and Sculpture before 1900

In 1779, established in London as one of the leading artists of the day, Benjamin West was commissioned by George III to decorate the walls of the Royal Chapel at Windsor Castle with scenes from the Old and New Testament, a project that would engage him for the next twenty years. He first painted The Ascension – in which Jesus ascends into heaven following his crucifixion and burial – in about 1781–82. The picture was never installed in the chapel, and West returned to the subject two decades later, producing the Berger picture. As was his practice, he created it as a finished study of the eventual painting. Soon after West completed it, King George appointed a new architect for the Royal Chapel project and the commission was cancelled. 

Known Provenance
Studio of the artist; his sons, Raphael and Benjamin West; their sale, Robins, London, May 22–25, 1829, lot 80; bought by the 3rd Earl of Egremont (1751–1837); by descent to John Wyndham, 2nd Baron Egremont; his sale, Sotheby’s, London, July 19, 1978, lot 19. With (P. & D. Colnaghi Ltd., London and New York) by 1980. With (Hall and Knight, London) by 1997; from which acquired by William M. B. Berger and Bernadette Johnson Berger, Denver, 1997; Berger Collection Educational Trust; gifted to the Denver Art Museum, 2018. Provenance research is on-going at the Denver Art Museum and we will post information as it becomes available. Please e-mail, if you have questions, or if you have additional information to share with us.
Exhibition History
  • “Treasures from the Berger Collection: British Paintings 1400-2000” — Denver Art Museum, 10/2/2014 – 9/9/2018

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