Early Portrait Photographs on View at the Clark Beginning October 12

For Immediate Release

October 04, 2007

Photography revolutionized the art of portraiture in the nineteenth century as the camera provided an effective means to capture an individual’s likeness with the accuracy of a mirror. The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute’s exhibition Facing the Lens: 19th-Century Portrait Photographs at the Clark, on view October 12, 2007, through January 13, 2008, offers a broad sampling of early portrait photographs.

Facing the Lens, consisting of fifteen works from the collection of the Clark and the Troob Family Foundation, includes photographs by Édouard Baldus, Nadar, David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson, Roger Fenton, and Julia Margaret Cameron. The photographs’ subjects range from wealthy families at home and celebrated writers posing in commercial studios, to medical patients trapped in an age that offered limited treatments. Facing the Lens also includes two self-portraits; as few photographers could resist the urge to face the lens themselves, staring back into the mechanical eye that provided a source of income and an exciting new means of artistic expression.

The Clark’s collection of photographs dates from the invention of photography to the early 20th century and now comprises nearly 500 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 Clark has more than 5,000 prints, drawings, and photographs, which are available for viewing by advance appointment.

This fall, portrait photography is also explored in a lecture and film. Screen legend Greta Garbo was, like all actresses of her time, photographed often, but her extraordinary beauty and strength as a portrait subject also captured the interest of photographers such as Edward Steichen, Arnold Genthe, and Cecil Beaton. On Saturday, October 20, at 3 pm, join noted film historian and author Robert Dance as he chronicles Garbo’s life from 1925 through the early 1950s as seen through the lens of the portrait camera. Following Dance’s talk, view Garbo in one of her most captivating roles, Queen Christina (1933, 99 minutes).

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 June 1 through October 31 is $12.50 for adults, free for children 18 and younger, members, and students with valid ID. Admission is free November through May. For more information, call 413-458-2303 or visit www.clarkart.edu.
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