Clark to Celebrate Opening of Rossetti in the 1860s with Valentine's Party February 10

For Immediate Release

February 02, 2001

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA, (February 1, 2001) - The sumptuous, romantic female portraits of Dante Gabriel Rossetti set the stage for a Valentine's Day party and opening reception at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute on Saturday, February 10, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The party celebrates the opening of Rossetti in the 1860s: The Blue Bower, which presents the Pre-Raphaelite artist's allegorical images of beautiful women, including his wives and mistresses. Champagne, chocolates, music, and flowers will establish the Valentine's atmosphere. Attendees are encouraged to dress in the spirit of Rossetti's paintings. Tickets are $40 ($30 for members) and are available by calling 413-458-2303, extension 324.

The gala reception, which also opens the exhibition Victorian Photography from the Clark Collection, continues the Clark's tradition of opening its spring exhibition with a Valentine's Day themed event. Hors d'oeuvres by Scott Avery Caterers will include shaved beef and arugula sandwiches, Moroccan chicken with rose petals, oysters chinois, and savory cheddar and apple tarts. Champagne, red and white wine, non-alcoholic sparking cider, coffee, and the Clark's own "Sterling Blend" tea will be served in the court. Chocolate violins filled with hazelnut ganache will reflect the musical themes of the exhibition. Other sweets served on the bridge will include white chocolate swans with black currant mousse, dark chocolate boxes filled with marscapone and citrus mélange, brandy baskets with lemon Bavarian, and "flirtation" hearts.

Musical entertainment will be on the bridge. Flowers for the event will be provided by David Michael Schmidt of Renaissance Floral Design in Loudonville, NY, who recently decorated the Texas State Society's Black Tie and Boots gala, the largest celebration prior to the inauguration of President George W. Bush. A free public lecture by curator Paul Spencer-Longhurst will precede the reception at 5:30 p.m. Following his introductory talk, Longhurst will sign copies of the exhibition catalogue, available for purchase at the Clark museum shop.

Rossetti in the 1860s highlights the English painter and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828--1882), a founding member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (a group of artists dedicated to the apparent simplicity and purity of the early Renaissance). In the 1860s, Rossetti turned from biblical and legendary subjects to half-length portraits of models who epitomized his ideal of female beauty-what he call "stunners." Rossetti's favorite models, who included his wife Elizabeth Siddal and his mistress Fanny Cornforth, shared common traits of long, elegant necks, cupid's-bow mouths, heavy-lidded eyes, and rich, wavy hair. Rossetti depicted these women, usually surrounded by rich fabrics and exotic decoration, in literary and idealized terms, often with an undertone of dangerous sensuality. Rossetti's 1865 masterpiece The Blue Bower is at the center of this exhibition. Selected paintings by Leighton, Whistler, Gustave Courbet, and others are also included. The exhibition is organized by the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, the University of Birmingham, England. The Clark is the only American venue for the exhibition.

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts.  The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free through May.  For more information call 413-458-2303 or visit

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