The Age of Impressionism: Great French Paintings from the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
December 22, 2013 through March 23, 2014
On December 22, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), will open The Age of Impressionism: Great French Paintings from the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, showcasing the Clark’s renowned holdings of French Impressionist painting. The exhibition features 73 paintings by artists such as Édouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Berthe Morisot, Camille Pissarro and Alfred Sisley, as well as Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Jean-François Millet, Jean-Léon Gérôme, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Pierre Bonnard, among others. The Age of Impressionism will be open at the Museum December 22, 2013, through March 23, 2014.
The Clark launched its collection tour in early 2011 at the Palazzo Reale in Milan, coinciding with a three-year expansion of its Williamstown, Massachusetts facility. The MFAH is only the second U.S. museum to host the exhibition, with lead corporate funding provided by TMK IPSCO. The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, initially the exclusive American venue, displayed it in spring 2012. Houston was recently added as a final U.S. site following the conclusion of the Asian leg of the tour. To date, the tour has been viewed by more than 1.8 million people around the world.
“The Clark is delighted to have this opportunity to bring the exhibition back to the United States to complete the world tour. After the exceptional welcome we experienced in Fort Worth, we look forward to having the opportunity to share our collection with the people of Houston where we know that these great works will find a receptive and appreciative audience,” said Clark director Michael Conforti.
“It’s a spectacular exhibition and we are thrilled to have the chance to present the show in Houston,” said Museum director Gary Tinterow. “The Clarks were some of the finest collectors of their time, and their distinctive sensibility and taste is evident in this remarkable selection of some of the most renowned paintings in the history of nineteenth-century French painting.”
Most of the works in the collection were acquired by Sterling and Francine Clark between 1910 and 1950. Sterling Clark, an heir to the Singer sewing machine fortune, began collecting art in Paris after a distinguished career in the United States Army. The couple assembled their collection based on their personal tastes, amassing paintings, silver, sculpture, porcelain, drawings and prints for their homes in Paris and New York. In 1950, the Clarks decided to create a permanent, public home for their collection. Drawn by the setting of the surrounding Berkshires and the appeal of its proximity to the academic community of Williams College, they settled on a 140-acre site in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute opened in 1955. Since its inception, the Institute has pursued a dual mission as both a museum and a center for research and higher education in the visual arts.
The 73 paintings by 25 artists to be exhibited span 70 years and not only tell the story of the Clarks’ devotion and passion for collecting but of painting in nineteenth-century France, from the Orientalist works of Gérôme to the Barbizon paintings of Corot and Rousseau to the Impressionist masterpieces of Manet, Degas, Monet, Renoir, Sisley and Pissarro, and concludes with the early modern output of Toulouse-Lautrec and Bonnard. Portraits, landscapes, marines, still lifes and scenes of everyday life are all represented.
A catalogue to accompany the exhibition is published by Skira Rizzoli, with editions in at least five languages. The 240-page publication features 131 color illustrations with essays by James A. Ganz and Richard R. Brettell.
- Museum of Fine Arts, Houston December 22, 2013 – March 23, 2014
- Shanghai Museum September 19 – December 1, 2013
- Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, Kobe June 8 – September 1, 2013
- Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, Tokyo February 9 – May 26, 2013
- Montreal Museum of Fine Arts October 8, 2012 – January 20, 2013
- Royal Academy of Arts, London July 7 – September 23, 2012
- Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth March 11 – June 17, 2012
- Fundación “La Caixa,” Barcelona November 17, 2011 – February 12, 2012
- Musée des Impressionnismes, Giverny July 13 – October 31, 2011
- Palazzo Reale, Milan March 2 – June 19, 2011
Exhibition Pricing and Audio Guides
Admission to The Age of Impressionism is specially ticketed, but does not require a timed reservation. Tickets will go on sale mid-November and will be available anytime at mfah.org, as well as by phone or on-site at any admissions desks for drop-in visits.
English and Spanish-language audio guides will be $5 for nonmembers and $4 for members. An audioguide ticket provides you with a single audio player, pre-loaded with audio tours about The Age of Impressionism plus the Museum’s permanent collections.
The Clark Collection
Sterling and Francine Clark personally acquired most of the paintings that form the basis of the Clark’s collection. From the 1910s until the 1950s, the Clarks assembled an outstanding collection of European and American paintings, sculpture and drawings, as well as British silver and European porcelain. The Clark is best known for its collection of French Impressionist paintings, including more than 30 works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, which take their place within a wider ensemble of masterworks that date from the Renaissance to the end of the nineteenth century. Although the collection has expanded greatly since the opening of the Clark in 1955, including a growing collection of early photography, the scope and character continues to represent the taste and interests of the founders.
The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
The Clark is one of the few major art museums that also serves as a leading international center for research and scholarship. The Clark presents public and education programs and organizes groundbreaking exhibitions that advance new scholarship, and its research and academic programs include an international fellowship program and conferences. The Clark, together with Williams College, America’s foremost liberal arts college, sponsors one of the nation’s leading master’s programs in art history. Its 140-acre campus in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts includes Stone Hill Center, designed by Tadao Ando and opened in 2008, which houses galleries, meeting and classroom facilities, and the Williamstown Art Conservation Center. The Clark is currently completing the final phase of a campus expansion program that includes construction of a new Ando-designed visitor center and the renovation of its museum building and the Manton Research Center, which houses the Clark’s library.
About the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH)
Founded in 1900, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is among the 10 largest art museums in the United States. Located in the heart of Houston’s Museum District, the MFAH comprises two gallery buildings, a sculpture garden, theater, two art schools and two libraries, with two house museums, for American and European decorative arts, nearby. The encyclopedic collection of the MFAH numbers some 65,000 works and embraces the art of antiquity to the present.