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The Lunder Center galleries are closed today, July 17.


JUNE 4–SEPTEMBER 4, 2006


Renoir


Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Blonde Bather, 1881
Oil on canvas
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts

In 1881, Renoir went to Italy to study figure paintings by Raphael and other Renaissance masters. While there, he produced this painting depicting his wife-to-be, Aline Charigot. She appears serene and monumental, like an ancient goddess, with the lapping waters of the Mediterranean in the background.


Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Marguerite-Thérèse (Margot) Berard (1874–1956), 1879
Oil on canvas
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Bequest of Stephen C. Clark 1960

Margot Berard was the youngest daughter of Renoir's friend and patron Paul Berard. The artist caught the child's sweet, wide-eyed expression in this somewhat formal portrait, painted during a visit to the Berard estate in Normandy. The directness of this portrayal recalls that of the Renoir self-portrait owned by Sterling Clark.


Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Still Life with Peaches, 1881
Oil on canvas
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Bequest of Stephen C. Clark, 1960

Renoir considered still-life painting a genre in which he could experiment. Here he contrasted the velvety texture of the peaches with the smooth, shiny porcelain dish in which they are piled. Sterling disparaged his brother's picture, claiming that it was the inferior companion of another very similar still life.


Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Self-Portrait, c. 1875
Oil on canvas
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts

This rapidly brushed, sketch-like portrait captures the artist's expression with great economy. Stephen was thinking about buying it in 1939 when Sterling abruptly bought it from the dealer. Sterling relished beating his brother to the punch in this instance.


Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Thérèse Berard, 1879
Oil on canvas
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts

This portrait of Thérèse Berard, cousin of Margot Berard, is one of the few paintings both brothers owned. Shortly after Stephen sold it in 1945, Sterling bought the painting, declaring it "one of the best portraits I have ever seen by Renoir," and adding with a touch of triumph, "it came from my brother Stephen."


Pierre-Auguste Renoir
A Girl Crocheting, c. 1875
Oil on canvas
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts

This was the first painting by Renoir that Sterling bought. It features Nini de Lopez, one of Renoir's favorite models at the time. In characteristic fashion, he shows the model concentrating on her crocheting with seemingly little concern for the chemise that has slipped alluringly off her shoulder.


Pierre-Auguste Renoir
At the Concert, 1880
Oil on canvas
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts

Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Madame Henriot in Costume, c. 1875–1877
Oil on canvas
Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio. Museum Purchase, Howald Fund, 1944

These two paintings show Renoir's interest in the theater. Sterling was attracted to At the Concert, with its elegantly dressed figures apparently attending a performance at the opera. Stephen preferred bolder images; he bought the large and unusual portrait of Henriette Henriot, who swaggers in her troubadour's costume behind the stage. Although Renoir was his favorite artist, Sterling did not like his brother's picture and commented "it could not have been sold to anyone except someone like Stephen."


"People are crazy about Renoir," Sterling Clark commented in his diary, and he himself was certainly among them. He acquired a total of thirty-nine paintings by the artist, whom he considered "a great master." Stephen Clark, too, collected Renoir's works, acquiring seven paintings despite his occasional uncertainty about Impressionism. Indeed, his portrait of Madame Henriot was among his largest and most expensive purchases, but as he explained to the dealer, "it is, however, such a beautiful picture that I would be willing to buy it . . . in spite of the fact that I don't quite know what to do with it."


The Clark Brothers Collect
Impressionist and Early Modern Paintings

Michael Conforti, James A. Ganz, Neil Harris, Sarah Lees, and Gilbert T. Vincent
With additional contributions by Daniel Cohen-McFall, Mari Yoko Hara, Susannah Maurer, Kathleen M. Morris, Kathryn Price, Richard Rand, and Marc Simpson

This meticulously researched and handsomely produced volume accompanies the exhibition and explores the superlative collections of brothers Sterling and Stephen Clark. Detailed biographical essays are complemented by discussions of specific artists and paintings that Sterling and Stephen collected, offering new insights into the brothers' personal lives and public profiles, and situating them within the history of American museums and philanthropy. Featuring more than three hundred archival photographs and illustrations of the works from their collections, the book also includes an illustrated chronology and a previously unpublished checklist of works purchased by these two influential yet relatively unknown collectors.

384 pages, 9 ½ x 11 inches
149 color, 64 quadratone, and 130 halftone illustrations
2006
Published by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, and distributed by Yale University Press, New Haven and London
ISBN 0-931102-65-0 (softcover)
ISBN 0-300-11619-5 (hardcover)