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"Winter Light: Selections from the Collection of Thomas Clark" opens at The Hyde Collection
Arthur James Emery Powell, American (1864-1956), Winter Landscape, ca. 1930, oil on canvas, 20 1/4 x 24 1/4 in., Gift of Thomas Clark to The Thomas Clark Collection of American Paintings, The Hyde Collection, 2012.6.

By: Tom Clark

GLENS FALLS, NY.- The collection is the result of my long-standing interest in all forms of artistic expression and a coincidental meeting in 1983, which was the catalyst for beginning the collection. I had driven a friend to Stuyvesant Plaza in Albany where she was meeting with a jeweler who was designing a new ring for an heirloom diamond she had inherited. Believing that I had little to contribute to the session, I told her I would go for a walk and look in the shop windows. That was the day I discovered the Albany Gallery and met prominent art dealer Mark LaSalle. It was a blustery day and very few people were in the gallery, and Mark took the time to answer my many questions about the paintings on display and the artists who had created them – representing both the Hudson River School and the American Impressionist movements. I asked him if he could give me a bibliography about these periods of American art and I bought a number of books and began studying. As well, he gave me catalogues of available works. I soon purchased my first painting from Mark – a wonderful little work by Irving Ramsey Wiles – and that was the start of a collection which now numbers more than 100 works.

I was immediately drawn to the American Impressionists and decided to focus on the pre-1940 period. In addition to Mark, there have been several other experts in this period of American art who were extremely helpful in providing advice and direction, and finding works which formed the foundation of the collection. The more I studied and observed, the more I realized how many wonderfully accomplished artists, particularly women, were little-studied and not given the recognition they deserved. The collection embraces many such artists. It includes pieces which were created from the turn-of-the-century to the late 1930s, and features examples of work from each of the major locations or "colonies" where artists gathered and worked in the Impressionist manner – pursuing the effects of changing light and working to capture the moment. Thus, there are representative pieces from Cape Ann, Gloucester and Rockport, Cos Cob, Old Lyme, Boston and New England, the Hudson River Valley, Bucks County, and both northern and southern California. Many artists in the collection are well-recognized, such as Robert Vonnoh, John Joseph Enneking, Walter Launt Palmer, Maurice Braun, and Benjamin Chambers Brown along with artists who are just being discovered or rediscovered, such as Lillian Burk Meeser, Arthur J.E. Powell, Alice Judson, and William Louis Otte.

The exhibition An Enduring Legacy: American Impressionist Landscapes from the Thomas Clark Collection was on view at The Hyde Collection from November 15, 2009 until March 28, 2010. This exhibition presented, for the first time, sixty-eight paintings from my collection. These artists were the students and/or sketching partners of the seminal figures in the development of Impressionism in America, such as William Merritt Chase, Willard L. Metcalf, John Henry Twachtman, and Robert Henri.

Part of the fun of collecting paintings from a specific period in American art is the opportunity to see both the similarities and the amazing diversity of expression of the artists working in the "last flowering" of American Impressionism. It is also fun to share works from the collection with a wider audience, which is why it was a pleasure to again accept the invitation from The Hyde to loan my paintings for the exhibition Winter Light.

My relationship with The Hyde has developed from these beginnings and has led me to determine that this fine museum will be the future home for my collection of paintings.

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