NEW YORK.- Impressionist and Early Modern Paintings: The Clark Brothers Collect brings together for the first time celebrated masterpieces once owned by rival brother collectors Robert Sterling Clark (1877-1956), founder of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and Stephen Carlton Clark (1882-1960), a former trustee and illustrious donor to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Featuring more than 60 paintings, the exhibition will provide a unique opportunity to appreciate the remarkable legacies of two brothers heirs to the Singer Sewing Machine fortune and native New Yorkers who played influential but ultimately divergent roles as patrons of the arts in the United States.
The exhibition is made possible by the Gail and Parker Gilbert Fund and the Janice H. Levin Fund. It was organized by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in collaboration with The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Never before seen ensemble, the most treasured paintings from Sterling Clark's collection, including works by such 19th-century masters as Degas, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Homer, and Sargent, will be seen side-by-side with commanding works by Cézanne, Seurat, Matisse, Picasso, Eakins, and Hopper, which held pride of place in Stephen Clark's collection. The brothers' "silent rivalry" will be given currency through works that invite comparison, such as two early self-portraits by Degas and similar rustic scenes by Homer and Remington, from their respective collections. Their mutual admiration for Renoir is highlighted in grand form by the artist's Woman with a Cat and At the Concert (both of 1880) from Sterling's collection, and A Waitress at Duval's Restaurant and Tilla Durieux, from Stephen's collection.
Sterling Clark maintained a fiercely private lifestyle devoted to collecting, traveling, and breeding racehorses. He quietly assembled exquisite and cohesive suites of paintings, notably by the Impressionists and their American contemporaries, with an eye to establishing a museum in his own name. The opening of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in 1955 brought his formidable holdings to light. In contrast, Stephen Clark was a dynamic public figure, actively involved in politics, philanthropic projects, and arts organizations. He established several museums, including the New York State Historical Association and the Baseball Hall of Fame, while serving on the boards of a number of cultural institutions, most notably the Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, where he was president of the board of trustees from 1939 to 1946. His holdings, which were dispersed by donation and sale, extended beyond the 19th-century framework of Sterling's collection to embrace the latest tendencies in modern art. In 1960, his magnificent bequest divided the major contents of his collection between the art museum of his alma mater, Yale University, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
This exhibition is organized at the Metropolitan Museum by Susan Alyson Stein, Curator, Department of Nineteenth-Century, Modern, and Contemporary Art.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute and distributed by Yale University Press. The catalogue is available in the Metropolitan Museum's bookshops (hardcover $65 and paperback $45).