Delacroix Painting Acquired by the Clark

For Immediate Release

April 14, 2006

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute has acquired an oil painting by the great French Romantic painter Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863). The work had been in a private collection since 1864 following Delacroix’s death, and was never presented publicly even during the artist’s lifetime. Two Horses Fighting in a Stormy Landscape was painted in the late 1820s, at the time when Delacroix was gaining fame as one of the most brilliant and audacious painters of his generation. The painting’s scale and brushy execution underscore the distinct qualities of Delacroix’s work and offer insight into his working process. Though intimate in scale, this visually powerful work adds a new dimension to the Clark’s distinguished collection of 19th-century French art. It will be unveiled in a special installation, Delacroix and the Horse, on view from June 24 to September 17, 2006.
 

Two Horses Fighting in a Stormy Landscape epitomizes Delacroix’s fascination with horses as well as his painterly vigor. Like his contemporary Théodore Géricault, Delacroix was an avid rider who often included horses in his art. Two Horses Fighting is considered the best example of a group of small oil sketches of wild horses made in the mid and late 1820s at the time that Delacroix was shocking the Parisian art world with his great canvases of The Massacres at Chios (1824, Louvre) and The Death of Sardanapalus (1827-28, Louvre), both of which include agitated horses.

“This lively work joins the Clark’s collection of 22 prints and drawings by Delacroix, and is our first painting by the artist,” said director Michael Conforti. “The Clark’s collection is also very strong in smaller-scale paintings that provide insight into an artist’s creative process. Equestrian subjects were of great interest to Sterling Clark. Two Horses Fighting is complemented by the Clark’s great horse scenes by Theodore Géricault, Edgar Degas, and others.”

Delacroix made numerous studies of horses during the 1820s, often going to riding schools and stables in Paris to draw. Two Horses Fighting, however, was no doubt made from his imagination, based on his life drawings as well as his study of such past artists as Peter Paul Rubens. The excitement of the scene is perfectly expressed in Delacroix’s virtuosic handling of the brush and the rich colors, which reflect the oil sketches of Rubens.

Offered to the Clark by the direct descendents of the family who purchased the painting at auction in 1864, this painting was kept in Delacroix’s personal collection until the time of his death. The auction sticker, with the number 81, is still affixed to the upper left of the canvas.

The special installation Delacroix and the Horse will feature this new acquisition alongside a selection of drawings and prints of horses by Delacroix, Degas, and other 19th-century French artists. Delacroix and the Horse will complement the Clark’s major summer exhibition, The Clark Brothers Collect: Impressionist and Early Modern Paintings,which explores the collecting of these great 20th-century art patrons.

About the Clark
Set amidst 140 acres in the Berkshire hills of western Massachusetts, the Clark is an art museum and a center for research and higher education, dedicated to advancing and extending the public understanding of art. To further its dual mission, the Clark organizes groundbreaking special exhibitions that advance scholarship while building public appreciation of art. The Clark's research and academic programs include an international fellowship program and regular conferences, symposia, and colloquia, drawing together arts leadership from around the world. The Clark encompasses one of the most comprehensive art history libraries in the world and, together with Williams College, jointly 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 from 10 am to 5 pm (daily in July and August). Admission is free November through May. Admission June 1 through October 31 is $10 for adults, free for children 18 and younger, members, and students with valid ID. For more information, call 413-458-2303 or visit www.clarkart.edu.

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