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Arctic Diary: Paintings And Photographs By William Bradford Opens February 17

For Immediate Release

January 10, 2002

American Luminist painter William Bradford (1823-1892) made nine trips to the Arctic regions, which inspired his paintings of icebergs, glaciers, ships, and frigid seascapes. In 1869 he documented his journey with 141 albumen photographs published in the travelogue The Arctic Regions: Illustrated with Photographs Taken on an Art Expedition to Greenland. Bradford used photographs of his travels as sources for many of his paintings. In 1999, the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute acquired the rare album as part of its ongoing initiative to build a collection of important early photography. The album has been disbound for necessary conservation treatment, providing a unique opportunity to display the individual photographs for a wide audience. Arctic Diary: Paintings and Photographs by William Bradford, on view February 17-May 5, 2002, features fifty photographs from the album, as well as twelve oil paintings by Bradford and a group of pencil, charcoal, and oil sketches.

Arctic Diary investigates Bradford's interaction with the north through the multiple media in which he worked, examining the role that photography and sketches played in his creative process. Bradford often used the photographic documentation of his Arctic journeys as inspiration for his paintings.

"Why, my photographs have saved me eight or ten voyages to the Arctic Regions," Bradford once wrote. "and now I gather my inspirations from my photographic subjects, just as an author gains food from his library, and I could not paint without them."

The Arctic Regions was printed in a limited edition of 300 by S. Low, Marston, Low and Seale of London in 1873. In addition to the original albumen photographs the album contains a chapter on the history of Greenland, Bradford's own narration of the expedition. The photographs were taken, under Bradford's direction, by John L. Dunmore and George Critcherson of the Boston firm of James Wallace Black.

The exhibition also includes the canvas The "Panther" in Melville Bay, commissioned by Queen Victoria and currently in the British Royal Collection at Windsor Castle. The painting will be exhibited publicly for the first time.

The exhibition will open at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, February 16, with a free public lecture by co-curators Brian Allen, curator of American paintings at the Clark, and James A. Ganz, curator of prints, drawings, and photographs. Through the run of the exhibition, the Clark will offer a free public program related to Arctic Diary every Sunday at 2:00 p.m. Films, lectures, and gallery talks are among the programs schedules. For a complete calendar, visit www.clarkart.edu or call 413-458-2303.

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts.  The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free through May.  For more information call 413-458-2303 or visit www.clarkart.edu.

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