The permanent collection of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is unusual. It began with Robert Sterling Clark's purchase of some exceptional old master paintings and drawings shortly after he began a ten-year residence in Paris, about 1910. By 1955, when the museum he founded with his wife opened in Williamstown, the Clark collection had grown to include an importane group of nineteenth-century paintings (with special concentrations in French impressionism and works by American masters--Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent, among others), a wide-ranging selection of works on paper, and a representative collection of English seventeenth- and eighteenth-century silver.
Following the 1961 appointment of the first Robert Sterling Clark Professor at Williams College, John Pope-Hennessey, and during the directorships of George Heard Hamilton (1966-77) and David S. Brooke (1977-94), the collection grew to include works that were often slightly outside the boundaries of the original Clark collection, but never in conflict with it. In this way paintings such as Ugolino da Siena'sVirgin and Child with Saints Francis, Andrew, Paul, Peter, Stephen, and Louis of Toulouse and Jean-Honore Fragonard's The Warrior were added in the 1960s; Pierre Bonnard's Women with Dog and Paul Gauguin's Young Christian Girl and the Rosewater Basin were purchased in the 1970s and 1980s; and Adam Pynacker's The Ferryboat, Joachim Wtewael's The Wedding of Oeleus and Thetis, and James Tissot's Chrysanthemums were acquired in the early 1990s.
Text and images courtesy of the Clark Art Institute.
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This page was originally published in 1997 in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 11/8/11
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