Clark Art Institute Acquires 30 Old Master Drawings
For Immediate Release
December 20, 2003
Selections purchased from distinguished private collection include masterpieces by Perino, Rembrandt, Castiglione, Tiepolo, and Fragonard
WILLIAMSTOWN, MA (December 20, 2003) - The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, purchased thirty Old Master drawings from one of the world's most distinguished private collections of its kind. The drawings, including works by Perino del Vaga, Rembrandt van Rijn, Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, and Jean-Honoré Fragonard, were selected from the collection of the late John and Alice Steiner and purchased from the estate of Mrs. Steiner of Lenox, who died earlier this year.
"After significant acquisitions in prints and photography over the years, we are now thrilled to make such an important and transformative addition to the drawings collection," said Michael Conforti, director of the Clark Art Institute. "These exceptional works, acquired from one of the notable collections formed in the last half of the 20th century, enhance the depth of our holdings. The extraordinary quality of these drawings is in keeping with the quality of those collected by our founders, who have long been recognized as among the most important American collectors of drawings in the first half of the 20th century."
The thirty drawings selected from the Steiner collection were chosen by the Institute with an eye towards excellence, depth, and variety in technique and subject matter. The works range from spontaneous pen and ink sketches to fully worked studies for paintings to finished presentation drawings.
The acquisition includes a group of 16th-century Italian mannerist drawings with sheets by Domenico Campagnola and Giorgio Vasari, and two drawings by Perino del Vaga. Of particular note is Perino's Studies of Horses (c. 1530-35), which complements frequent equine imagery in the Clark collection. Seventeenth-century Italian drawings acquired include works by important artists previously unrepresented in the Clark's drawings collection: Guercino, Pier Francesco Mola, il Pomerancio, Domenico-Maria Canuti, Salvator Rosa, Jacopo da Empoli, Giovanni Battista della Rovere, and Domenico Piola.
Other highlights in the acquisition are the pastel Head of an Apostle Reading (1712) by Benedetto Luti, Galoping Centaur (c. 1755-65) by Domenico Tiepolo, and the red chalk study Hermit's Court in the Colosseum ( 1758) by Fragonard. The Clark's holdings of works on paper by Rembrandt and his school are enhanced by the addition of the biblical drawing Nathan Admonishing David (c. 1652-53) as well as sheets by Rembrandt's followers Ferdinand Bol and Philips Koninck.
John and Alice Steiner, formerly of Larchmont, New York, began collecting drawings as a team in 1971. Mrs. Steiner continued to collect drawings after her husband's death in 1983. She moved to Lenox, Massachusetts, in 1995, and most of her collection, numbering nearly 200 drawings, has been on loan to the Clark since that time. The Steiner collection has been the focus of exhibitions at the Fogg Art Museum (1977), Santa Barbara Museum of Art (1986), and High Museum of Art, as well as the Clark Art Institute's 1997 exhibition, Marks of Excellence.
"This group of drawings adds great strength to the Institute's pre-1800 drawings, particularly in Italian drawings of the 16th and 17th centuries," said James A. Ganz, curator of prints, drawings, and photographs. "The Steiners were known for their exquisite taste, and they formed a beautiful and compelling collection of Old Master drawings that rivals the collection amassed by Sterling and Francine Clark at the beginning of the twentieth century."
Sterling Clark began collecting drawings in 1913 with the purchase of Rembrandt's Christ Finding the Apostles Asleep and, with his wife, Francine, continued to collect drawings through the 1920s. The Clark drawings collection includes works by Old Masters Perugino, Andrea del Sarto, Van de Velde, Van Dyck, and Watteau, 19th-century French drawings by such artists as Claude Monet and Gustave Courbet, and particularly in large and diverse examples of drawings, watercolors, and pastels by Winslow Homer and Edgar Degas. The Institute has made several notable acquisitions in pastels since the Institute's opening, including works by Mary Cassatt, Edward Vuillard, and Jean-François Millet, and Camille Pissarro, and has added significantly in prints and early photography over the years. The Steiner purchase is the Institute's most important acquisition in drawings since the deaths of the founders.
This extraordinary acquisition caps off an impressive year for the Clark, one in which its exhibitions, including Renoir and Algeria (currently seen at the Institute du Monde Arab, Paris) and Turner: The Late Seascapes (on view at the Manchester City Art Galleries, U.K.), achieved both popular and critical success. The Institute's influential contributions in the research and academic arena included the successful Clark Conference "The Anthropologies of Art," and the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Clark/Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art. Earlier this year the Clark also took another important step in its expansion program with the unveiling of the designs for its campus by award-winning architect Tadao Ando.
All thirty drawings will be on view at the Clark in a special installation from December 20 through February 16. Following the close of the installation, the drawings will be accessible to the public in the Institute's print study room.
The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is one of the country's foremost art museums and also a dynamic center for research and higher education in art history and criticism. The Clark's exceptional collections of Old Master, Impressionist, and 19th-century American art on display in the museum's intimate galleries are enhanced by its dramatic 140-acre setting in the Berkshires.
The Institute is one of only a few art museums in the U.S. that is also a major research and academic center, with an international fellowship program and regular conferences, symposia, and colloquia, and an important art research library. The Clark, together with Williams College, jointly sponsors one of the nation's leading M.A. programs in art history and encompasses one of the most comprehensive art history libraries in the world. Its Fellows and conference programs draw university and museum professionals from around the world.
The Clark Art Institute is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. For more information, call 413-458-2303 or visit www.clarkart.edu.