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The Clark Presents Romantic Nature: British and French Landscapes Highlighting Manton Collection Works

For Immediate Release

February 28, 2011

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA—Romantic Nature: British and French Landscapes, on view at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute until September 30, 2011, explores the Romantic sensibilities shared by British and French artists in the early nineteenth century, with a focus on their imaginative approach to representing nature. The paintings on view include John Constable’s The Wheatfield (1816, Gift of the Manton Foundation in memory of Sir Edwin and Lady Manton) and A Study of Trees (c. 1803-5, Private collection, Williamstown, Massachusetts), and Constant Troyon’s The Coming Storm (1860, acquired by Sterling and Francine Clark, 1935) and A Pond in the Forest, (mid-nineteenth century, gift of David Jenness in honor of Arthur F. Jenness).

In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, European writers, artists, and composers generated revolutionary ideas about the interplay between art, nature, and subjectivity. This phenomenon, known as Romanticism, was generally marked by creative explorations of emotion, irrational thought, and personal experience. As these concerns and pursuits emerged in France, artists such as Théodore Rousseau, Jules Dupré, and Constant Troyon looked to the achievements of John Constable and other leading British artists as transformative alternatives to the classical conventions that had long defined artistic practice.

Constable championed what he called “a natural painture,” an approach to landscape painting that rejected many principles of traditional art instruction and relied instead upon the artist’s intuitive response to the observable world. By 1824, the year that Constable’s paintings were featured at the Paris Salon, younger generations of artists on either side of the Channel were equally entrenched in the belief that “pure” landscape paintings held the same emotive power once believed to be the exclusive domain of historical or religious art.

Many of the paintings and drawings included in Romantic Nature were assembled by business leader and arts patron Sir Edwin A. G. Manton (1909–2005) and his wife Florence, Lady Manton. The collection, a gift of the Manton Foundation in 2007, includes works of art by Constable, J. M. W. Turner, and Thomas Gainsborough, among other leading British artists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In addition to works from the Manton Collection, the installation also features British drawings on loan from a local private collection; a gift from David Jenness in honor Arthur F. Jenness (Williams College professor of psychology, 1946–1963); and French paintings owned by Sterling and Francine Clark. The resonances between the Clark collection and the recent Manton gift echo the focus of this installation: the dynamic artistic exchanges between British and French artists at the turn of the nineteenth century.

The Clark

The Clark is one of the few major art museums that also serves as a leading international center for research and scholarship. The Clark presents public and education programs and organizes groundbreaking exhibitions that advance new scholarship, and its research and academic programs include an international fellowship program and conferences. Its 140-acre campus in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts includes Stone Hill Center, designed by Tadao Ando and opened in 2008, which houses galleries, meeting and classroom facilities, and the Williamstown Art Conservation Center. The Clark, together with Williams College, sponsors one of the nation’s leading master’s programs in art history.

The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm (daily in July and August). Admission is free November through May. Admission is $15 June 1 through October 31. Admission is free for children 18 and younger, members, and students with valid ID. For more information, call 413 458 2303 or visit clarkart.edu.

Calendar Listing

February 24: Romantic Nature: British and French Landscapes, on view at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute until September 30, 2011, explores the Romantic sensibilities shared by British and French artists in the early nineteenth century, with a focus on their imaginative approach to representing nature. The paintings on view include John Constable’s The Wheatfield (1816, Gift of the Manton Foundation in memory of Sir Edwin and Lady Manton) and A Study of Trees (c. 1803-5, Private collection, Williamstown, Massachusetts), and Constant Troyon’s The Coming Storm, (1860, acquired by Sterling and Francine Clark, 1935) and A Pond in the Forest, (mid-nineteenth century, gift of David Jenness in honor of Arthur F. Jenness). The Clark, 225 South Street, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 413 458 2303, clarkart.edu.

Contact:
pr@clarkart.edu

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