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Rare Books on View at the Clark Offer Enticing Glimpse into Extraordinary Collection

For Immediate Release

October 18, 2007

A rich vein of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute’s rare book collection will see daylight during Printed Love, a complementary exhibition to Consuming Passion: Fragonard's Allegories of Love. Opening October 28, Printed Love will contextualize the works by Jean-Honoré Fragonard through a display of engravings, etchings, and illustrated books from the extraordinary collection of rare books in the Clark’s library.

Eighteenth-century France was rich with illustrated books, and Fragonard produced designs for several. He created a small number of original etchings but also commissioned engravings of many of his paintings. On view will be works by illustrators and engravers who, like Fragonard, experimented with new visual expressions of love in the years leading up to the Romantic period. Included will be illustrations by the best French eighteenth-century designers and engravers, such as Jean Michel Moreau Le Jeune and Nicolas Delaunay. Many of the books are in period bindings and in remarkable condition. This complement to Consuming Passion gives an enticing glimpse into a collection of treasures that are available to the public year-round, upon request, for viewing in the library.

Fragonard is best known as a painter of playful genre subjects, garden landscapes, and fantasy portraits, but in his later career he turned to the subject of romantic love. Consuming Passion: Fragonard’s Allegories of Love focuses on Fragonard’s work during the 1780s and 1790s when he created a series of dramatic reflections on the subject of romantic allegories. This exhibition explores these mysteries and evocative works in a variety of themes: oil painting, drawings, prints, and illustrated books. Consuming Passion was organized by the J. Paul Getty Museum in association with the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. It will be on view at the Clark October 28, 2007 through January 21, 2008.

Established in 1962, the Clark’s library is one of the major art reference and research libraries in the country. Focusing on post-medieval art, the collection is outstanding in the Italian and Northern Renaissance, Baroque, and French nineteenth-century fields and is well balanced in other areas. Its resources include approximately 225,000 books, bound periodicals, and auction sales catalogues, with current journal subscriptions numbering around 650.

Founded on the libraries of the former firm of Duveen Brothers (New York) and of the late Dutch art historian W. R. Juynboll, the Clark also holds an important collection of books on the decorative arts given by Mary Ann Beinecke and a collection of works on early twentieth-century art (with particular strengths in Dada and Surrealism) given by George Heard Hamilton, former director of the Clark. Sterling Clark's outstanding collection of rare books is notable for its illustrated books, fine bindings, and literature in rare editions and comprises about one-third of the 2,200 titles in the rare book collection. In addition, the library holdings include a collection of twentieth-century artists' books.

The library is a partner of RLG Programs, a global partnership of nearly 150 research libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural memory institutions. Arranged in open stacks, the library is non-circulating outside the premises but study areas are available throughout its four floors. Terminals giving access to the online catalog and an extensive suite of electronic databases are available on all floors.

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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