Painting From British Royal Collection To Be Seen Publically For First Time At Clark Exhibition

For Immediate Release

February 01, 2002

A painting by American artist William Bradford from the British Royal Collection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will be exhibited publicly for the first time anywhere in a forthcoming exhibition at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. The Panther in Melville Bay was commissioned by Queen Victoria in 1873 and since that time has hung in the Queen's private library at Windsor Castle. The painting will make its first public appearance in the exhibition Arctic Diary: Paintings and Photographs by William Bradford, opening at the Clark February 17, 2002.

"The Panther in Melville Bay is a great Victorian subject, exemplifying both purity and complexity," said Brian Allen, curator of American paintings at the Clark. "In many ways it demonstrates the way we see the Victorian era-cold and distant, but also rich with color. The painting is certainly one of the highpoints of Bradford's career."

The Queen's Picture depicts "The Panther," the ship on which Bradford sailed on his Arctic expeditions. "The Panther" is surrounded by the icebergs and glaciers of Melville Bay, a body of water off the western coast of Greenland. According to Allen, the painting reflects Queen Victoria's personal taste as well as the Victorian interest in exploration. Bradford's images of the Arctic Circle held a particular fascination for the Victorian public, who were drawn to the danger and peril of the unknown region and to the photographic "truth" of his paintings.

The Clark exhibition examines the Arctic subjects of Bradford (1823-1892) and his use of photography as sources. Bradford, an important Luminist painter, made nine trips to the Arctic Circle, 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. 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. The exhibition, on view February 17-May 5, 2002, features fifty photographs from the album, as well as oil paintings by Bradford and a group of pencil, charcoal, and oil sketches.

Located in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, the Clark Art Institute welcomes visitors year-round to its collections of French Impressionist, Old Master, and American paintings, English silver, and American decorative arts. The Clark's intimate galleries are set on 140 acres of nature trails, gardens, and meadows. The Clark is both a museum and a center for research and higher education, with a 200,000 volume library which supports the Clark/Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art and a fellowship program welcoming 18 international scholars annually. Earlier this year, the Clark announced its master plan for the expansion of its facilities and the enhancement of the campus, which will include a new building designed by Pritzger-prize winning architect, Tadao Ando.

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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