Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute (Williamstown, MA)


Renoir painting - two young women sitting in comfortable chairs, one holding a bouquet of flowers

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, At the Concert (1880), is one of the features in the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute’s catalogue of their 19th-century European paintings collection. Image courtesy of the Clark Art Institute

Williamstown's Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, founded in 1950, is known for its collection of 19th-century European paintings and major collections of silver, porcelain, drawings, and photographs. The Art Institute provides public programs such as teacher workshops and family days, and includes a 200,000-volume reference library that is open to all, making the museum a vital cultural organization for the rural western Massachusetts community. 

In FY 2005, the Art Institute received an NEA Access to Artistic Excellence grant of $65,000 to support the first-ever catalogue of its collection of 19th-century European paintings. The catalogue is planned for publication by Yale University Press in summer 2006. The paintings represent one of the last major collections held by an American art museum that has yet to be catalogued. While many of the collection's Impressionist paintings are well known, the full range and depth of the collection will be a revelation to many.

The focus of the catalogue will be 325 works by 19th-century artists of eight different nationalities. Major works range from paintings by Théodore Géricault, J. M. W. Turner, and Jean-Francois Millet to work by Claude Monet, Edouard Manet, and Camille Pissarro. In addition, the collection includes 34 works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, one of the largest holdings of his work by an American institution.

The catalogue will comprise two volumes arranged alphabetically by artist's name. An introductory essay on the formation of the collection will include unpublished material from Sterling Clark's diaries and purchase records. The catalogue entries are being written by eight art historians and include extensive technical and conservation notes as well as the historian's own interpretations and opinions on the pieces. The catalogue also will include a comprehensive index and bibliography.

(From the NEA 2005 Annual Report)