Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Library 225 South Street Williamstown, MA, 01267 413-458-0532 firstname.lastname@example.org
This finding aid was encoded by Eric Shannon
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Library
Peter Guille Jr. Gift
Physical Description note:
.25 linear feet
This series contains receipts, correspondence, Robert Sterling Clark's lawsuit against his brothers over their inheritence, and RSC's diaries from 1941 through 1948. The entries recount his daily life in New York City, Cooperstown, Virginia, and Paris.
Letters of correspondence are arranged in the order in which they were received. All folders are arranged in their original order. The folder containing the typed diary entries from Feb 29, 1948-May 10, 1948 is positioned before the bulk of the handwritten diary entries beginning in 1941. The handwritten diaries are arranged chronologically, in the order in which they were received. Minor changes were made when pages were out of order.
Scope and Contents note
Collection includes correspondence, diary entries and Robert Sterling Clark's Supreme Court Case of NY complaint dated January 14, 1927 and answer dated May 16, 1927. The correspondence letters are between art dealers, horse breeders, and business associates between 1941 and 1943. The diary entries are from 1945 to 1948 with one entry dated from 1941. Entries recount friendships; disputes; meals and cooking; parties; financial investments; the purchase of artwork and silver; Clark's relationship with various art dealers; his thoughts and opinions about art and collecting; his and Francine's health; horse breeding and racing; politics; and the other subjects that make up a lifetime.
Born in 1877, Robert Sterling Clark, along with his three brothers, was heir to the Singer sewing machine fortune. Their father, Alfred Corning Clark, was the son of Edward Corning Clark, Isaac Singer's business partner. RSC attended Yale University and graduated in 1899 with a degree in engineering. He joined the army and his service during the Boxer Rebellion earned him the commission of first lieutenant. In 1908, RSC undertook an expedition to the Shaanxi and Gansu provinces in a remote area of northern China. He intended to carry out ethnographic and zoological research, as well as conduct surveys and create maps. His partner in this undertaking was Arthur de Carle Sowerby. Sowerby, in addition to being a naturalist, explorer, artist and editor, collected specimens for the British Museum and other museums of natural history in the United States and China. The expedition came to an abrupt end when Hazrat Ali, their translator and surveyor, was murdered.
Shortly thereafter, RSC moved to Paris. In 1909 he inherited various pieces of art from his family and these pieces became the foundation of the collection he was to build over the ensuing decades. He made his first purchases in 1912 and was initially attracted primarily to Dutch, Flemish and Italian old masters. Soon, his interests expanded to include silver, prints and drawings, rare books, and more contemporary artists such as Renoir, Degas, Sargent and Homer.
During this time RSC met Francine Clary. Formerly an actress with the Comedie Francaise, Francine was the mother of a daughter, Viviane Modzelewska. Francine and RSC began seeing one another in 1910, but didn't marry until 1919. Their relationship was a source of tension with RSC's family and eventually led to a rift between him and his brother, Stephen. Stephen, the youngest of the Clark brothers, had shouldered the daily administration of the family's fortunes. RSC felt that he was at a disadvantage because of the way the Singer trusts were constructed. Should something befall RSC, the money would pass back into the Clark family rather than to Francine and her daughter. When he was unable to resolve the issue within the family, he and Stephen had a falling out that would never be mended and RSC sued unsuccessfully in court to break up the trusts.
RSC and Francine were partners in assembling the collections that would eventually be housed at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, visiting galleries and dealers together. Another keen interest was horse breeding. RSC owned large operations that bred, raised and trained racehorses, first in Belgium and then in Virginia. In 1951, his horse, Never Say Die, won the Epsom Derby, the first American-bred horse ever to do so.
After considering various options for the eventual disposition of their artworks and objects, including donation to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and founding a museum in New York City, RSC and Francine decided to locate their collections in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Beginning in 1950 and continuing through RSC's death late in 1956, their lives were focused on building the Institute, both physically and administratively.
Berry Bros. & Rudd
Chapman, Elisabeth Cobb
Chapman, F. Douglas
Clark, Edward Severin, 1870-1933
Clark, Francine, d. 1960
Clark, Frederick Ambrose, 1881-1964
Clark, Robert Sterling, 1877-1956
Clark, Stephen Carlton, 1882-1960
Clemens, Paul Lewis, 1911-1992
Davey, George, H
Durand Ruel et Cie
Elfers, Herbert H
Finney, Humphrey, S., 1902-1984
Idle Hour Stock Farm
M. Knoedler & Co.
Rudd, Hugh Randall
Tiffany and Company
This collection is restricted.
Conditions Governing Use note
This collection is restricted.
[Cite the item (as appropriate)], Peter Guille Jr. Gift, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 1940-1952 Williamstown, Massachusetts.
This collection was gifted to the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute by Peter Guille Jr. in September 2012.
This collection was processed by Eric Shannon. All staples and ties were removed and all bundles rehoused in paper sheaths in acid-free folders.
On the occasion of the Clark Art Institute's 50th anniversary, the Clark published: The Clark brothers collect: impressionist and early modern paintings / Michael Conforti ... [et al.] ; with additional contributions by Daniel Cohen-McFall ... [et al.], Williamstown, Mass., Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2006.
This collection fills the gaps of missing diary entries in the Sterling and Francine Clark Papers Diaries Series, which can be found here. http://maca.cdmhost.com/cdm/ref/collection/p15001coll3/id/26 Some of the items have been digitized and can be found in the Peter Guille Jr., Gift Digital Collection located here. http://cdm16245.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/ref/collection/p16245coll4/id/104 Additional related or similar material can be found in the following series in the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute Archives, Williamstown, Massachusetts: Correspondence Series, Sterling and Francine Clark Papers; Financial Series, Sterling and Francine Clark Papers; Images Series, Sterling and Francine Clark Papers; Personal Series, Sterling and Francine Clark Papers; and Realia Series, Sterling and Francine Clark Papers; Records and Papers of David Brooke; Institutional Oral Histories.