ROBERT STERLING CLARK Biography - Craftmen, artisans and people from other Occupations


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Name: Robert Sterling Clark                                                         
Born: 25 June 1877                                                                 
Died: 29 December 1956                                                             
Robert Sterling Clark (June 25, 1877 - December 29, 1956) an American art           
collector, horse breeder, and philanthropist, heir to the Singer Sewing Machine     
He owned several residences: New York City, Cooperstown, New York, "Sundridge       
Farm" in Upperville, Virginia, and Paris, France.                                   
Served in the military in the Philippines and during the Boxer rebellion. At       
least one source claims he served under Gen Smedley Butler.                         
Sterling Clark purchased his first Impressionist painting, Pierre-Auguste Renoir's 
Girl Crocheting, in 1916. He and his wife Francine (1876-1960), continued to       
collect art rapidly and towards the end of their lives established their           
collection as a museum near the campus of Williams College in Williamstown Mass.   
This after originally making plans with brothers Stephen Carlton Clark and F.       
Ambrose Clark to put together their collections in a single art museum in           
After a falling out amongst the brothers, Sterling not only cancelled such plans,   
but also withdrew his share of the family fortune from the collective trust. He     
established his own foundation and sold off (and donated some) all his property     
holdings in Cooperstown. He donated the Ernest Flagg designed Neoclassic YMCA       
building, commissioned by his mother, Elizabeth Scriven Clark in 1898, to the       
village in 1932, and it now houses village offices, the library and the             
Cooperstown Art Association.                                                       
Almost no communication between the Stephen and Sterling occurred again.           
Over the next five decades, he and his wife collected numerous paintings by         
Renoir, plus dozens of paintings, sculptures and pastels by other Impressionist     
The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, opened its doors to the public in   
1955. According to Time Magazine, "in building their $3,000,000 Sterling and       
Francine Clark Art Institute, the Clarks ignored cost (local boosters boast that   
the marble for the new museum was the biggest single order in Vermont since the     
U.S. Supreme Court), but insisted on quality."                                     
Works in the collection included over 30 Reniors as well as Dutch and Spanish       
and American painters such as Winslow Homer, Goya, Frans Hals, and Degas.