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The Clark Acquires Sixteen Drawings by Claude Lorrain

For Immediate Release

November 26, 2007

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute has acquired sixteen drawings by the great seventeenth-century French landscape artist Claude Lorrain. The acquisition makes the Clark holder of one of the most important collections of Claude drawings outside of Europe. The drawings, which will be on view beginning January 19, 2008, join two oil paintings and several etchings by Claude already in the Clark’s collection.

“The acquisition of these drawings continues the Clark’s tradition of acquiring collections that represent the depth of an individual artist or period,” said Richard Rand, senior curator at the Clark. “Claude is the fountainhead of the European and American landscape tradition, whose legacy is apparent everywhere in the Clark’s collection and in the pastoral setting of our campus.”

The sixteen drawings represent the full breadth of Claude’s draftsmanship, including works made as early as 1630 and as late as 1667. The collection features nature studies of Rome and Tivoli and other identifiable sites, generalized landscape views, and studio drawings with historical subjects that were made as studies for paintings, as well as independent works of art. Claude’s brilliant technique and innovative combination of materials are fully represented as well: there are pen-and-ink drawings combined with wash and white gouache, black and red chalk drawings, and drawings on cream paper and blue paper. Many of the sheets are inscribed by Claude and several are dated.

The drawings have a prestigious legacy, thirteen of them having originated from an album assembled by Claude’s heirs and sold to Queen Christina of Sweden and subsequently belonging to Italian Prince Livio Odescalchi, Georges Wildenstein, and Norton Simon. They were assembled in the 1980s by New York collector Peter Sharp, who acquired three more, including one from the collection of Lord Kenneth Clark, the famous art historian and former director of the National Gallery in London. The Clark acquired the drawings from the heirs of Peter Sharp.

Born in the Duchy of Lorraine in present day France, Claude spent the majority of his career in Rome, making landscape paintings for prominent collectors across Europe. He drew incessantly, making both studies of nature in the open air and elaborate preparatory drawings for his paintings. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Claude was most popular with British collectors, especially aristocrats on the Grand Tour. He was a hero to landscape painters like Camille Corot in France and John Constable and J.M.W. Turner in England. The acquisition of this magnificent group of Claude drawings perfectly complements the Clark’s recent gift of the Manton Collection.

In 2006, the Clark, in association with the British Museum, organized Claude Lorrain—The Painter as Draftsman: Drawings from the British Museum. Curated by Richard Rand, the exhibition marked the first time the British Museum lent such a large number of Claude drawings to the United States. The exhibition opened at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, and after being presented at the Clark in winter of 2007, traveled to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

The Clark

Set amid 140 bucolic acres in the picturesque Berkshires, the Clark is one of the few major art museums in the United States that also serves as a leading international center for research and scholarship. In addition to its extraordinary collections, the Clark organizes groundbreaking special exhibitions that advance new scholarship and presents an array of public and educational programs. The Clark’s research and academic program includes an international fellowship program and regular conferences, symposia, and colloquia. Its programs draw university and museum professionals from around the world. The Clark, together with Williams College, sponsors one of the nation’s leading master’s programs in art history and encompasses one of the most comprehensive art history libraries in the world.

In 2008, the Clark will open the Stone Hill Center, the first phase of its expansion and campus enhancement project. Designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Tadao Ando, the wood and glass 32,000-square-foot building will house new intimately scaled galleries, a meeting and studio art classroom, an outdoor café, and the Williamstown Art Conservation Center (WACC).

The Berkshires, a region of rolling hills in western Massachusetts, has been a haven for cultural activity since the first half of the nineteenth century. The Berkshires are home to a wealth of cultural institutions that in addition to the Clark include: Tanglewood, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, MASS MoCA, the Norman Rockwell Museum, Williams College Museum of Art, and the Williamstown Theatre Festival, among many others. For more info., visit www.clarkart.eduor call 413-458-2303.

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