International Tour of French Masterworks from the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute Opens at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

For Immediate Release

October 15, 2012

A History of Impressionism: Great French Paintings from the Clark
Open October 13, 2012–January 20, 2013

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA–The international tour of masterpieces from the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute’s French paintings collection opened at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) on Saturday, October 13, marking the seventh stop on the Clark’s world tour that has drawn more than 1.2 million visitors since it began in October 2010.

Open to the public through January 20, 2013, the exhibition features 73 paintings, including works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, Berthe Morisot, and Camille Pissarro, as well as those by Pierre Bonnard, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Paul Gauguin, Jean-François Millet, Alfred Sisley, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, William-Adolphe Bouguereau and Jean-Léon Gérôme. The exhibition, A History of Impressionism: Great French Paintings from the Clark, also features Edgar Degas’s sculpture, Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, which is on special loan to the  MMFA for this presentation. 

“The Clark is delighted to have this opportunity to share some of its best-known and most beloved works with a broader global audience,” said Michael Conforti, director of the Clark. “We are particularly pleased to have the opportunity to present the exhibition in Montreal, which is just a short trip from Williamstown. We hope many of our friends will take advantage of this proximity to view the exhibition in its spectacular presentation in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’s galleries.”

In opening the exhibition, the MMFA’s director Nathalie Bondil explained, “The selection on display shows a refined taste and a discerning eye for Impressionism; its forerunners with the Barbizon School, the birth of the movement and the historic vindication of the 1870s and 1880s are particularly well illustrated. Beyond the prestige of the signatures, these canvases are all of high quality in and of themselves.”

The Montreal venue is significant as it marks a return to Canada, of sorts, for many of the paintings featured in the exhibition. Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, Sterling Clark shipped a number of the paintings in his collection from Paris to Montreal to be stored for safekeeping, including many of those which are a part of this exhibition. 

The timing of the international tour coincides with the current building activity tied to the Clark’s campus expansion program, including renovation of its existing museum building and Manton Research Center and construction of a new Visitor, Exhibition, and Conference Center designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando. 

The Clark’s international tour comes to the MMFA from its successful presentation at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, where it garnered critical praise and considerable public attention during London’s Olympic summer. In 2013, the international tour will travel to Asia, where it will be presented in Tokyo and Kobe, Japan; and Shanghai, China.

Accompanying the exhibition is the catalogue Great French Paintings from the Clark, published by Skira Rizzoli in spring 2011, with editions in five languages. The 240-page publication, available in hardcover, features 131 color illustrations accompanied by essays by James A. Ganz and Richard R. Brettell.


The Clark Collection
Sterling and Francine Clark acquired most of the paintings that form the basis of the Clark’s collection. From the 1910s until the 1950s, the Clarks assembled an outstanding collection of European and American paintings, sculpture, and drawings, as well as British silver and European porcelain. The Clark is best known for its collection of French Impressionist paintings, including more than thirty works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, which take their place within a wider ensemble of masterworks that date from the Renaissance to the end of the nineteenth century. Although the collection has expanded greatly since the opening of the Clark in 1955, including a growing collection of early photography, the scope and character continues to represent the taste and interests of the founders. 

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
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, America’s foremost liberal arts 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 daily in July and August (open Tuesday through Sunday from September through June), 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. 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

Victoria Saltzman
The Clark
413 458 0421


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