By Sarah Hammond, Curatorial Assistant
On Wednesday, when most of the Northern Berkshires were as silent as the falling snow, I snatched up the chance for a rare treat: wandering through the Clark’s latest exhibition, Eye to Eye, in near solitude. The galleries were quiet save for the gentle hum of the climate control and the quick pleasantries I exchanged with one of our dedicated guards. But the exhibition felt anything but empty! The painted faces peering from the frame-lined walls animated the Clark’s familiar corridors with the vim and vigor of a bustling crowd; I felt surrounded by arch smiles, rosy cheeks, and frank stares.
Stopping to gaze into eyes that have, in effect, been gazing back for centuries always thrills me. I have been known to get emotionally worked-up thinking about this passage of time in front of Rogier van der Weydens—yes, I’m a true art history nerd—and being able to do so without embarrassment or reproach in the Clark’s hushed galleries on a snowy day was very special indeed.
Returning to my desk in the Manton Study Center for Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, I stopped to reflect on the intimate encounters with art that the Clark offers daily. With its domestically scaled galleries—and now, with a show like Eye to Eye that begs for close looking—the Clark basically requires that we get up close and personal with images and characters from long ago. A wonderful way to spend a wintry afternoon.
And speaking of intimate spaces, do consider stopping in for an appointment in the Manton Study Center for a chance to study highlights from Clark’s works on paper collection. In keeping with the focus of Eye to Eye, I offer here a glimpse at some of my favorite portraits from the collection.
To make an appointment, call (413) 458-0560 or e-mail [email protected].
Lucas Cranach, the Elder (German, 1472–1553), Portrait of a Young Woman Holding Grapes and Apples, 1528. Oil on panel transferred to canvas, 32 1/8 x 21 5/8 in. (81.6 x 55 cm). Private collection. Photo by Glenn Castellano.
Workshop of Rogier van der Weyden (Netherlandish, 1399/1400–1464), Portrait of Anthony of Burgundy, c. 1465. Oil on panel, 13 1/8 x 9 1/8 in. (33.4 x 23.2 cm). Private collection. Photo by Glenn Castellano.
Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471–1528), Head of a Young Man, 1503. Metalpoint and pen and brown ink heightened with white on gray prepared paper, 8 3/4 x 7 1/8 in. (22.3 x 18.1 cm). Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1955.1835
Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577–1640), Portrait of Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, c. 1629-30. Brush and brown ink, brown and gray wash, heightened with white and touches of red wash, 18 1/4 x 14 in. (46.4 x 35.6 cm). Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1955.991
Félix Bracquemond (French, 1833–1914), Portrait of Edmond de Goncourt, 1881. Etching on paper, image: 17 13/16 x 12 5/8 in. (45.3 x 32 cm), plate: 19 11/16 x 13 1/16 in. (50 x 33.1 cm), sheet: 22 3/8 x 16 1/16 in. (56.9 x 40.8 cm). Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1969.23
Gaspard-Félix Tournachon (called Nadar) (French, 1820–1910), Honoré Daumier, 1856-58. Salt print from glass negative, image: 9 7/16 x 7 1/2 in. (24 x 19 cm). sheet: 12 5/16 x 10 in. (31.2 x 25.4 cm). Acquired by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute with funds donated by Evelyn Stefansson Nef, 1999.14
John Singer Sargent (American, 1856–1925), Portrait of Mrs. Gilbert Russell, 1911. Black chalk on paper, 15 1/4 x 20 7/8 in. (38.7 x 53 cm). Gift of the Manton Art Foundation in memory of Sir Edwin and Lady Manton, 2007.8.98