Photographs and Prints on View at the Clark Document the History and Modernity of Paris

For Immediate Release

April 06, 2009

Printmakers and photographers, like all Parisians, were fascinated by the dramatic changes taking place in Paris during the 1850s and 1860s. Second Empire Paris: History and Modernity, on view at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute April 25 through June 21, features six photographs and six prints capturing the radical changes to the architecture and infrastructure of Paris at that time. The prints and photographs are drawn from the Clark collection and the Collection of the Troob Family Foundation.

Shortly after Napoleon III came to power in 1851, he placed Georges-Eugène Haussmann in charge of the capital region, and Haussmann restructured the city by demolishing many ancient buildings to make room for broad, straight boulevards, large squares, new public structures, and rebuilt parks. Artists recorded both the old city in the process of disappearing and the new modern metropolis coming into being, in views ranging from aerial panoramas to underground scenes to humorous commentary on utopian ideals and on the mania for both city views and for photography itself.

The exhibition will feature works by well-known artists such as Honoré Daumier and Charles Marville and others by less familiar artists, including Maxime Lalanne and Achille Quinet. Some, like Marville, who was an official photographer for the city, spent a considerable part of their careers documenting the capital. The exhibition includes recent acquisitions and works that are being shown at the Clark for the first time.

Sterling and Francine Clark amassed some 500 drawings and 1,400 prints that formed the basis for a curatorial department devoted to works on paper—now the department of prints, drawings, and photographs—spanning the history of the graphic arts from the 15th century through the mid 20th century. The collection now numbers around 5,000 works on paper. The Clark’s collection of photographs dates from the invention of photography to the early 20th century and now comprises nearly 1,000 photographs. The collection includes important photographs by Gustave Le Gray, Édouard Baldus, Nadar, Eugène Atget, Jacques-Henri Lartigue, William Henry Fox Talbot, Julia Margaret Cameron, Francis Frith, Roger Fenton, Carleton Watkins, William Bradford, Winslow Homer, and Alfred Stieglitz. The collection of works on paper may be viewed by appointment in the department's study room. To arrange a visit, call 413-458-2303, extension 360.

The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown. The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm (daily in July and August). Admission is free November 1 through May 31. Admission June 1 through October 31 is $12.50 for adults, free for children 18 and younger, members, and students with valid ID. For more information, call 413-458-2303 or visit


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