The collection is the result of my longstanding interest in all forms of artistic expression and a coincidental meeting in 1983, which was the catalyst for beginning the collection. I had driven a friend to Stuyvesant Plaza in Albany, where she was meeting with a jeweler who was designing a new ring for an heirloom diamond she had inherited. Believing that I had little to contribute to the session, I told her I would go for a walk and look in the shop windows. That was the day I discovered the Albany Gallery and met prominent art dealer Mark LaSalle. It was a blustery day and there were not many people in the gallery, and Mark took the time to answer my many questions about the paintings on display and the artists who had created them -- representing both the Hudson River School and the American Impressionist movements. I asked him if he could give me a bibliography about these periods of American art -- and I bought a number of books and began studying. As well, he gave me catalogues of available works. I soon purchased my first painting from Mark -- a wonderful little work by Irving Ramsey Wiles -- and that was the start of a collection which now numbers more than 100 works.
I was immediately drawn to the American Impressionists and decided to focus on the pre-1940 period. In addition to Mark, there have been several other experts in this period of American art who were extremely helpful in providing advice and direction and finding pieces which formed the foundation of the collection. The more I studied and observed, the more I realized how many wonderfully accomplished artists, particularly women, were little studied and not given the recognition their work deserves. The collection includes many such artists. It includes pieces which were created from the turn of the century to the late 1930s and features examples of work from each of the major locations or "colonies" where artists gathered and worked in the Impressionist manner -- pursuing the effects of changing light and working to capture the moment. Thus, there are representative pieces from Cape Ann -- Gloucester and Rockport, Cos Cob, Old Lyme, Boston and New England, the Hudson River Valley, Bucks County, and California -- both North and South. There are examples in the collection of artists who are well-recognized -- such as Robert Vonnoh, John Joseph Enneking, Walter Launt Palmer, Maurice Braun, and Benjamin Chambers Brown -- and artists who are just being discovered or rediscovered, such as Lillian Burk Meeser, Arthur J.E. Powell, Alice Judson, and William Louis Otte.
I have collected paintings with which I like living and that I have been able to afford. There are numerous pieces that might have been in the collection, if I had had an unlimited budget. I have also been fortunate to have had the assistance of three excellent conservators and several talented framers.
Part of the fun of collecting paintings from a specific period in American art is the opportunity to see both the similarities and the amazing diversity of expression of the artists working in the "last flowering" of American Impressionism. It is also fun to share works from the collection with a wider audience, which is why it was a pleasure to accept the invitation of David Setford and Erin Coe to loan the paintings to The Hyde Collection for the exhibition following my introduction to David and Erin by Maryann Bell and Beverley Mastrianni. The relationship with The Hyde that has developed from these beginnings has led me to determine that this fine museum will be the future home for my collection of paintings.
Return to An Enduring Legacy: American Impressionist Landscapes from the Thomas Clark Collection
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