International Tour of French Masterworks from the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute Opens at Shanghai Museum

For Immediate Release

September 18, 2013

International tour has welcomed more than 1.8 million visitors worldwide

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA—The international tour of French nineteenth-century paintings from the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute’s collection opens Thursday, September 19 at the Shanghai Museum in Shanghai, China. Shanghai marks the tenth venue on the Clark’s first-ever international tour which has drawn more than 1.8 million visitors since it began with a special presentation at the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain in October 2010.

The Shanghai presentation, Barbizon through Impressionism: Great French Paintings from the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, will be open to the public through December 1, 2013. The exhibition features seventy-three paintings, including works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, and Camille Pissarro, as well as those by Pierre Bonnard, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Paul Gauguin, Jean-François Millet, Alfred Sisley, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, William-Adolphe Bouguereau and Jean-Léon Gérôme. 

“We are particularly pleased to bring the Clark’s collection to Shanghai as this marks the next chapter in our continuing collaboration with the Shanghai Museum and further deepens the Clark’s historic connections to China,” said Michael Conforti, director of the Clark. “Our founder, Sterling Clark, first came to China during his service in the United States Army at the turn of the century and this inspired him to return in 1908–09 to lead a scientific expedition through remote regions of Northern China to collect meteorological, geologic, and animal specimens and to create the first Western–style maps of the region. It is a very significant moment to have the opportunity to bring some of the best works from Mr. Clark’s collection to China as we deepen a relationship that began more than 100 years ago.”

In addition to its exhibition of the Clark’s French paintings collection, the Shanghai Museum is also presenting a special photographic installation, Sterling Clark in China: 1908–09, which documents Clark’s expedition and features photographs taken during the trek along with contemporary photographs of many of the same locations taken by Chinese photographer Li Ju, who retraced Clark’s route nearly a century later. The exhibition includes documents and photographs that were featured in the Clark exhibition Through Shên-kan: Sterling Clark in China, presented in Williamstown in summer 2012.

The Shanghai exhibition is the latest in a continuing cultural exchange collaboration that began in 2008 when the Clark teamed with China’s Ministry of Culture to host presentations of the expedition’s photographs in a number of regional Chinese museums located along the route followed by Clark and his exploratory team. In 2012, the Clark hosted a special exhibition,Unearthed: Recent Archaeological Discoveries from Northern China, which brought an exclusive presentation of significant archaeological treasures from a number of Chinese museums to its Williamstown campus.
The international tour recently ended a three-month presentation at the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art in Kobe, Japan, where it attracted more than 150,000 visitors. The Kobe venue was the second presentation in Japan, following the tour’s successful run at Tokyo’s Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum. Total attendance at the two Japanese venues was nearly 400,000.

The Clark initiated its global tour with a special presentation of its full Renoir collection at Madrid’s Museo del Prado in October 2010. Milan’s Palazzo Reale was the opening venue for the current  tour of the selected works from the Clark’s nineteenth century French paintings collection  in March 2011. Subsequent venues have included: Musée des impressionnismes, Giverny (July–October 2011); CaixaForum, Barcelona (November 2011–February 2012); Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth (March–June 2012); Royal Academy of Arts, London (July–September 2012); and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal (October 2012–January 2013); Following its Shanghai presentation, the tour will travel to its final venue at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, where it will open on December 22, 2013. At the conclusion of the Houston exhibition, the works will return to Williamstown to be reinstalled in preparation for the reopening of the Clark’s museum building in summer 2014.

The international tour coincides with the Clark’s campus expansion program, including the construction of its new Visitor Center designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando.

“The Clark’s paintings serve as our ambassadors to the world during this exciting period of change and growth on our campus,” said Conforti. “They have also proven to be great ambassadors for the rich cultural offerings available in the Berkshires. We are proud to be able to use our tour as a way of introducing the Berkshires to audiences around the globe and encouraging them to visit the region.”

Accompanying the exhibition is the catalogue Great French Paintings from the Clark, published by Skira Rizzoli in spring 2011, with editions in five languages. The 240-page publication, available in hardcover, features 131 color illustrations accompanied by essays by James A. Ganz and Richard R. Brettell.

 About the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute

Set amidst 140 acres in the Berkshires, the Clark is one of the few major art museums that also serves as a leading international center for research and scholarship. The Clark presents public and education programs and organizes groundbreaking exhibitions that advance new scholarship. The Clark’s research and academic programs include an international fellowship program and conferences. Together with Williams College, the Clark sponsors one of the nation’s leading master’s programs in art history.

The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Galleries are temporarily closed through September 20; Stone Hill Center galleries open September 21. Admission is free. For more information, visit or call 413 458 2303.


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