About the Exhibition
The emergence of British art as a significant collecting area at the Clark is a recent phenomenon. For museum founders Sterling and Francine Clark, works by artists from the British Isles did not constitute a major collecting focus. British art was largely eclipsed by the French Impressionist, American, and Old Master paintings that the Clarks so loved and that became central to the museum’s identity. A transformative gift from Sir Edwin and Lady Manton’s collection of British art, donated by the Manton Art Foundation in 2007, changed all that. British art soared dramatically in significance and visibility at the Clark, and a dedicated gallery allowed works from the Manton Collection (mostly paintings) to be on permanent display. Works on paper such as prints and drawings, however, are light-sensitive and can be on view only for short intervals, if they are to be preserved for posterity. Therefore, this exhibition is a rare opportunity to present, all at once, the broad scope of our British collection with prints and drawings of the highest quality.
50 Years and Forward: British Prints and Drawings Acquisitions offers a richly varied selection of works on paper acquired since the Manton Research Center opened in 1973. Highlights include lively figure drawings by Thomas Rowlandson; vibrant watercolor landscapes by J.M.W. Turner, Thomas Girtin, and H.W. Williams; heartfelt interpretations of nature by John Constable and Samuel Palmer; vivid portrait heads by Thomas Frye and Evelyn de Morgan; and an astonishing watercolor interior by Anna Alma-Tadema. This abundant display showcases how the Clark continues, in the wake of the Manton gift, to enrich the British works on paper collection—ensuring that it grows in strength and variety far into the future.
50 Years and Forward: British Prints and Drawings Acquisitions is organized by the Clark Art Institute and curated by Anne Leonard, Manton Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs.