April 11, 2017 

Williamstown, Massachusetts—Robert Sterling Clark Visiting Professor Mary Roberts presents the free lecture “An Orientalist Gesamtkunstwerk? Frederic Leighton's Arab Hall” on Tuesday, April 25 at 5:30 pm at the Clark Art Institute. The lecture will be held in the Michael Conforti Pavilion. Gesamtkunstwerk, or “total work of art,” incorporates many art forms or strives to do so.
Throughout his career, British artist Lord Frederic Leighton traveled extensively across the Near East, amassing an exceptional collection of Islamic art. Distancing himself from prevailing conventions of realism in nineteenth-century British Orientalism, Leighton insisted he was “no painter of Bedouins.” The Arab Hall in his home in Holland Park, London, where he installed his collection, is the preeminent creation of his Orientalist aestheticism.
In this lecture, Roberts reconsiders the role of Islamic art in this semi-public interior, assessing how diverse sources from around the Mediterranean came to inspire this modern space.
Mary Roberts, the 2015–2017 Robert Sterling Clark Visiting Professor in the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art, is the John Schaeffer Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Sydney. She is a scholar of late Ottoman art and European Orientalism who has written extensively about patterns of transcultural exchange in the nineteenth century. Her most recent book, Istanbul Exchanges: Ottomans, Orientalists and Nineteenth-Century Visual Culture, received the 2016 Best Book prize from the Art Association of Australia and New Zealand. At the Clark, she is working on her next book on artists as collectors of Islamic art in the nineteenth century.
The Clark Art Institute, located in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, is one of a small number of institutions globally that is both an art museum and a center for research, critical discussion, and higher education in the visual arts. Opened in 1955, the Clark houses exceptional European and American paintings and sculpture, extensive collections of master prints and drawings, English silver, and early photography. Acting as convener through its Research and Academic Program, the Clark gathers an international community of scholars to participate in a lively program of conferences, colloquia, and workshops on topics of vital importance to the visual arts. The Clark library, consisting of more than 270,000 volumes, is one of the nation’s premier art history libraries. The Clark also houses and co-sponsors the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art.
The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is $20; free year-round for Clark members, children 18 and younger, and students with valid ID. For more information, visit or call 413 458 2303.
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Clark Art Institute
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