Impressionist and Early Modern Paintings:
The Clark Brothers Collect
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York
New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute of Williamstown, Massachusetts have collaborated to bring together for the first time a selection of paintings from the major art collections of two estranged brothers: Stephen and Sterling Clark, heirs to the Singer sewing machine fortune of their grandfather and the art-collecting interests of their parents. Tensions between the two erupted into a fistfight and, after 1923, they never spoke to each other again.
Although distant from each other, both brothers shared a passion for art that bred a sort of silent rivalry between them. Seen together, their collections present a dazzling survey of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century art by such European masters as Edouard Manet, Paul Cézanne and Henri Matisse, as well as masterpieces by Americans John Singer Sargent and Edward Hopper. “The exhibition provides an opportunity to compare side-by-side similar paintings and to appreciate the very distinctive tastes and legacies of the two collectors,” says Susan Alyson Stein, Curator of the Department of Nineteenth Century, Modern, and Contemporary Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where Impressionist and Early Modern Paintings: The Clark Brothers Collect is on view May 22nd through August 19th.
Both brothers admired the work of Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Sterling owned 39 Renoirs; Stephen owned seven. Among the show’s highlights are large-scale figure paintings each brother owned, including an 1880 Salon painting from Sterling’s collection, Sleeping Girl with a Cat and, from Stephen’s collection, A Waitress at Duval’s Restaurant (ca. 1875) and a portrait of German actress Tilla Durieux painted in 1914 when Renoir was so crippled with arthritis that he had to strap his brush to his hand.
“The two brothers had quite a difference in perspective,” says Stein. While both brothers shared an appreciation for impressionists, Stephen was more adventurous and purchased modern art, too. Sterling tended to keep the paintings he collected; Stephen sometimes sold or traded his paintings or donated them to museums. Shirley Moskow
May 22 – August 19, 2007
1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York
212.535.7710 • www.metmuseum.org
Photos: (Top): Pierre-Auguste Renoir, A Waitress at Duval’s Restaurant, ca. 1875. Oil on canvas. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bequest of Stephen C. Clark, 1960. (Bottom): Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas, Self Portrait, possibly 1854. Oil on paper, laid down on canvas. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bequest of Stephen C. Clark, 1960.MySpace Art Chat