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The cover of Through Shên-kan, Sterling Clark's account of his 1908-9 expedition to northern China

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Sterling and Francine Clark Papers

Robert Sterling Clark was an heir to the Singer sewing machine fortune. After graduating from Yale in 1899 with a degree in engineering, he joined the United States Army, serving in the Philippines and China. In 1908 and 1909 he led an expedition to a remote area of northern China to conduct geographical, ethnological, and zoological exploration, and published his findings in the book Through Shên-kan (London, 1912). Shortly thereafter he settled in Paris, where he began collecting art and met Francine Clary, whom he married in 1919.

The Sterling and Francine Clark Papers cover the period 1901–1957 and include Sterling Clark's extensive diaries, which trace the development of his taste in art, his idiosyncratic approach to collecting, and his interest in breeding thoroughbred horses; records of early appraisals of works of art; receipts; inventories for insurance purposes of artworks, jewelry, rare books, and wine; correspondence with various friends and business colleagues, including Arthur de Carle Sowerby, Clark's partner in the expedition to China; Stereodrome glass plates; and personal materials such as wills, favorite recipes, passports, photographs, military uniforms, and firearms. Click here to search this collection.

Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute Records

The institutional papers include historical materials related to the Clarks' decision to locate their collection in Williamstown; founding documents such as incorporation papers, early board minutes, and engineering studies and architectural plans; correspondence, reports, and memoranda of the Clark's first three directors; and ongoing records that document the history of the Clark, including its governance, exhibitions, publications, administrative evolution, and the development of the Library and the Research and Academic Program. Click here to search this collection.