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From Paris: A Taste for Impressionism - RA

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Girl with a Fan (detail).

Exhibition preview

THIS SUMMER, the Royal Academy of Arts is presenting an exhibition entitled From Paris: A Taste for Impressionism Paintings from The Clark, on display in the Sackler Wing from July 7 to September 23, 2012.

The exhibition will showcase 70 major works, many of which have never been on public display in the UK before. Masterpieces by Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Degas, Sisley and Morisot, as well as an exceptional group of more than twenty paintings by Renoir from the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, will be shown.

The exhibition will illustrate the Clark Art Institute’s holdings of French 19th-century art, with particular emphasis upon Impressionism. The exhibition will also embrace important works by pre-Impressionist artists such as Corot, Théodore Rousseau and J-F.Millet, as well as examples of highly polished ‘academic’ paintings by Gérôme and Bouguereau.

The paintings in the exhibition will be presented by genre, in order to reveal the range of subject matter and diversity of stylistic approach in French 19th-century art. The groups of works will include: landscapes and cityscapes; marine views; genre paintings depicting scenes of life; nudes; still lifes; portraits – including self portraits of artists central to the exhibition such as Renoir and Degas, and paintings reflecting the contemporary interest in Orientalism.

Highlights from each of these sections will include Monet’s The Cliffs at Étretat, 1885, Alfred Sisley’s Banks of the Seine at By, c. 1880–81, Berthe Morisot’s The Bath, 1885–86 and Jean-Léon Gérôme’s The Snake Charmer, c. 1879. A selection of 20 works by Auguste Renoir will be on display including At the Concert, 1880.

The history of the Clark collection dates back to 1910 when Sterling Clark settled in Paris after a career in the United States Army and began collecting works of art. Sterling married Francine Modzelewska (but known by her stage name Clary) in 1919 and together they continued a shared passion for collecting.

In 1950 the Clarks decided to found the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts as a permanent home for their vast collection, although they had originally thought to build their museum in New York City. The Clark family had close ties with nearby Williams College (Sterling’s grandfather was an 1831 graduate of this college and had served as a trustee from 1878 to 1882). The museum opened to the public in 1955.

From Paris: A Taste for Impressionism Paintings from The Clark is organised by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, in association with the Royal Academy of Arts. The exhibition has been curated by Richard Rand, the Robert and Martha Berman Lipp Senior Curator of Paintings and Sculpture from the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute with MaryAnne Stevens, Director of Academic Affairs, Royal Academy of Arts.

A fully illustrated catalogue has been published to accompany the exhibition, with contributions by James A. Ganz and Richard R. Brettell. James A. Ganz offers a biographical introduction to Sterling Clark, while Richard R. Brettell discusses the Clark collection within the broader context of other early twentieth-century American collectors, such as Albert Barnes, Henry Clay Frick and Duncan Phillips. Lavish illustrations are accompanied by illuminating entries about each of the paintings.

From Paris: A Taste for Impressionism Gallery

Admission: £9 full price; £7 registered disabled and 60 + years; £5 NUS/ISIC cardholders; £3 12–18 years and Income Support; £3 8–11 years; 7 and under free. RA Friends go free. Tickets are available daily at the RA or online at

Group bookings: Groups of 10+ are asked to book in advance. Telephone 020 7300 8027 or email:

Times: Daily from 10am to 6pm daily (last admission 5.30pm); Late night opening: Fridays until 10pm (last admission 9.30pm).

Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J OBD

Tel: 020 7300 8000