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The Clark Receives Important Collection of British Art

For Immediate Release

June 15, 2007

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute announced today that the Manton Foundation has donated a significant collection of British paintings, oil sketches, watercolors, and other works on paper by J.M.W. Turner, John Constable, and Thomas Gainsborough, among others. As part of this gift, the foundation has contributed $50 million to endow the Clark’s acclaimed Research and Academic Program, a leading international center for discussion and scholarship in the visual arts. The Clark Fellows Program supports scholars from around the world who come to Williamstown to work in its distinguished art history library and participate in its conferences, symposia, and colloquia. The Clark also sponsors and houses on its campus the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art, one of the nation’s leading masters programs in art history.

The Manton Collection and Foundation were created by Sir Edwin A. G. Manton, a business leader and arts patron, who died in October 2005 at the age of 96. Mr. Manton amassed a collection of over 200 works, mainly watercolors, drawings, prints, oil studies, as well as oil paintings. Among the highlights of the gift to the Clark are Turner’s Off Ramsgate (1840) and Constable’s Wheatfield (1816) and Cloud Study (1821–22). The collection includes three paintings and seventeen watercolors by Turner; six paintings, seventeen oil studies, eight watercolors, and nineteen drawings by Constable; and three oil paintings and fifteen drawings by Gainsborough. The collection also includes significant works by Thomas Rowlandson, Thomas Girtin, and Richard Parkes Bonington, among other British artists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Gainsborough, Constable, and Turner: The Manton Collection will go on view in a special installation at the Clark this summer.

Sir Edwin A. G. Manton, known to his friends and colleagues as “Jimmy,” was a driving force in the development of American International Group (AIG). Mr. Manton was born in Essex County, just a few miles from Constable’s birthplace and arrived in New York in 1933 to work for AIG. He rose swiftly in the young company and become a vice president in 1938 and served as president from 1942 to 1969, chairman from 1969 to 1975, and finally as a senior advisor until his death. Despite his long residence in the United States, he never took U.S. citizenship. Mr. Manton donated to the Tate in London becoming its most generous benefactor after its founder, Sir Henry Tate. He established the American Patrons of the Tate in 1988 and was knighted in 1994 in recognition of his philanthropy.

“Like Sterling and Francine Clark, Sir Edwin A. G. Manton quietly and methodically assembled a distinguished collection over the course of a half-century, maintaining his anonymity in the art world until his later years. He focused his attention on several major figures, building significant clusters of the work of Constable, Turner, and Gainsborough that would become among the most important in private hands,” stated Michael Conforti, director of the Clark. “This magnanimous and visionary gift advances the Clark’s dual mission as both a public art museum and a center for research and higher education, dedicated to enhancing the public’s understanding of art while advancing scholarship,” continued Conforti.

“We knew that the Clark would be excellent stewards of the collection making it available to future generations of the American public, visitors worldwide, and the scholars and students who frequent the Clark,” said Diana Morton, daughter of Sir Edwin A. G. Manton and head of the Manton Foundation.

In selecting the Clark as the beneficiaries of this generous gift, the Manton Foundation recognized the Clark’s role as a global center of research in the visual arts and in the development of professionals in the visual arts field. In the spirit of collaboration and support, the gift will be dedicated to enhancing and expanding the Clark’s extensive programs for research and scholarship. The funds generated by the endowment will be used to create a new study center for works on paper, support the Clark’s outstanding art history library (one of the most comprehensive in the country), and increase the activities of its renowned research program.

In recognition of this gift, the Clark will re-name the building that serves as the home of its research and academic program the Sir Edwin and Lady Manton Research Center. The study center for works on paper, a gallery dedicated to British art, as well as the position of curator of prints, drawings, and photographs also will carry his name.

The Clark
Set amidst 140 bucolic acres in the picturesque Berkshires, the Clark is one of the few major art museums in the United States that also serves as a leading international center for research and scholarship. In addition to its extraordinary collections, the Clark organizes groundbreaking special exhibitions that advance new scholarship and presents an array of public and educational programs. The Clark’s research and academic programs include an international fellowship program and regular conferences, symposia, and colloquia. Its programs draw university and museum professionals from around the world. The Clark also encompasses one of the most comprehensive art history libraries in the world.

In 2008, the Clark will open Stone Hill Center, the first phase of its expansion and campus enhancement project. Designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Tadao Ando, the wood and glass 32,000-square-foot building will house new intimately scaled galleries, a meeting and studio art classroom, an outdoor café, and the Williamstown Art Conservation Center (WACC).Phase 2 of the master plan, which includes the renovation of the original 1955 museum building, a new Ando-designed Exhibition, Visitor, and Conference Center, and the renovation of the building currently housing the library and administrative offices, is scheduled to be completed in 2013.

The Berkshires, a region of rolling hills in western Massachusetts, has been a haven for cultural activity since the first half of the nineteenth century. The Berkshires are home to a wealth of cultural institutions that in addition to the Clark include: Tanglewood, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, MASS MoCA, the Norman Rockwell Museum, Williams College Museum of Art, and the Williamstown Theatre Festival, among many others. For more information, visit www.clarkart.edu or call 413-458-2303


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