It is the first time the Clark has allowed such a core part of its collection go abroad and Milan is just the first stop on the exhibition’s three-year world tour. It will remain at the Palazzo Reale until June 19, and then travel to France, Spain, Texas, England, Canada, Japan and China.
“Impressionists: Masterpieces of the Clark Collection” features paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Eduoard Manet, and Camille Pissarro, as well as by Pierre Bonnard, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Paul Gauguin, Jean-Francois Millet, Alfred Sisley and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
The Impressionist paintings form part of a collection of American and European art, with pieces dating from the Renaissance to the end of the 19th century, amassed by Sterling and Francine Clark from the 1910s to the 1950s. The collection is best known, however, for French Impressionist paintings, including more than 30 works by Renoir.
Robert Sterling Clark (1877-1956) was an heir to the Singer sewing machine fortune, and noted American philanthropist, horse breeder and art collector. After finishing his studies at Yale University and serving in the US Army – including a post in the Philippines during the Boxer Rebellion – he settled in Paris in 1910. There he met actress Francine Clary, whom he married in 1919. Francine shared Sterling’s passion for art, and over subsequent decades, relying entirely on their own judgment and tastes, they acquired paintings, silver, sculpture, porcelain, drawings, and prints. They founded the Sterling and Francine Clark Institute in 1950, to create a permanent home for their vast collection. The museum opened its doors in 1955, the year before Sterling Clark’s death.
Top right: Edgar Degas Dancers in the dance class, circa 1880 Photo by Michael Sterling and Francine Clark Agee © Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, USA.
Bottom right: James Tissot Chrysanthemums, about 1874-1876 © Photo by Michael Sterling and Francine Clark Agee Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, USA.