Dimensions: 30 1/8 x 40 1/8 inches
Frame Dimensions: 39½ x 49½
About the artist
Born in New York City in 1883, Eliot Clark was the son of American artist Walter Clark (1848–1917), a well-known Tonalist landscape painter whose circle of friends included John Henry Twachtman (1853–1902), John Francis Murphy (1853–1921), Edward Potthast (1857–1927), Joseph DeCamp (1858–1923), and Frank Duveneck (1848–1919). Clark’s parents encouraged him in his artistic interests and they instilled in him, as a young boy, a love for nature and a great spirituality.
Educated in the New York public schools, Clark graduated from Washington Irving High School at the early age of fifteen. Although he studied briefly for a two month period at the Art Students League under Twachtman, Clark’s artistic education began at a very early age under the tutelage and encouragement of his father. Clark wrote in later life, “As a child, I grew unconsciously in the association of artists, of studio talk and the smell of paint and turpentine”. He also recounted that some of his earliest memories of his father’s studio were when it was in the Holbein building in New York City, directly above a stable, and next door to the studio of the great American landscape painter George Inness (1824–1894). His father believed that nature was the painter’s best teacher, and consequently took his son with him on numerous painting excursions. In his youth, Clark traveled with his father and other prominent artists to paint in the summer art colonies at Annisquam, Gloucester, Chadd’s Ford, and Ogunquit. Undoubtedly, a child prodigy, in 1892, at nine years of age, Clark exhibited two pieces at the New York Water Color Club, and in 1899, at the age of sixteen, was accepted into exhibitions at both the Boston Art Club and the National Academy of Design.
As a result of the diversity of artists with whom he associated, Clark executed accomplished works in both a Tonalist and an Impressionist manner. His Impressionist sympathies were undoubtedly stimulated at an early age, not only by the work of his father, but also by his association with Twachtman, Potthast, and numerous other painters of that persuasion with whom he spent the summer of 1900 in Gloucester. His exposure to the Impressionist movement was certainly intensified during his two years of study and travel in Europe from 1904 to 1906. Clark traveled first to Giverny, where he spent a full month before continuing his studies and exploration in Paris. He then traveled to London, where he saw and was greatly moved by the impressionist works of James Whistler (1834–1903). Clark then embarked upon a walking tour of Europe with a fellow artist, first visiting many of the major galleries in Holland and Belgium. They traveled through the Swiss, German, and Italian Alps, and in Italy visited Venice, Ferrara, Bologna, Florence, Capri, and Naples. Clark completed his European sojourn in Spain, where he studied in Toledo and at the Prado in Madrid.
Clark returned to New York in 1906, and a year later took his own studio in the Van Dyke Building on Eighth Avenue, where he had shared a studio with his father prior to his European travels. There he enjoyed the company of a diversified group of artists from his generation, including the Tonalists Bruce Crane (1857–1937) and Cullen Yates (1866–1945), and the Impressionists Karl Anderson (1874–1956) and Edward Dufner (1872–1957). By this time, Clark was painting in a predominantly impressionistic mode. He developed a very personal and distinctive style in his landscape painting, a style that he called a “spiritualized rendition of nature,” and a style that would characterize his work for the remainder of his career.
In 1907, Clark was presented with his first major solo exhibition at the Doll and Richards Gallery in Boston. His career quickly gained momentum and he exhibited his works regularly in prestigious national exhibitions. In 1912, Clark’s works were featured in a solo exhibition at the Louis Katz Gallery in New York, and in the same year he was awarded the Third Hallgarten Prize at the National Academy of Design. Also in 1912, Clark made his first trip to the American West, where he painted in the Grand Canyon, New Mexico, the Painted Desert, and northern Arizona. He returned to the West in 1913, visiting California and painting in Yosemite, and returned to paint in the Southwest a number of times in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Following his marriage in 1921, Clark and his new wife settled in Kent, Connecticut. The Clark’s home along the Housatonic River was their primary residence until 1932. By the 1920’s Kent was well known as an artists’ community, which was centered around the notable Impressionist Robert Hogg Nisbet (1879–1961). Nisbet was well established and respected in the New York art community and was the first artist to settle in Kent in 1910.
Clark spent most of his professional life dividing his time between New York City and his home in Connecticut. In 1932 Clark bought a summer home in Albemarle County, Virginia, presumably to escape from a bitter divorce from his first wife. An emotionally difficult time for Clark, and his life-long interest in eastern philosophy were perhaps the stimuli for his two years of travel in India in 1937 and 1938, during which he painted in the Himalayas and Tibet. Upon his return in 1939, Clark re-established his studio in New York City. Rejuvenated by a second marriage in 1944, and by his being elected to full Academician status at the National Academy of Design, Clark again began to divide his time between New York and Connecticut. In the late 1940’s Clark and his wife began to summer in Virginia, where they ultimately settled in 1959.
In addition to his success as a painter, Clark was also widely respected as a writer and art historian. He published biographies of four American Impressionists: Alexander Wyant (1916), John Henry Twachtman (1924), John Francis Murphy (1927), and Theodore Robinson (1979). He also wrote important articles on Robinson, Childe Hassam, Julian Alden Weir, and Robert Vonnoh, and published a history of the National Academy of Design in 1954. Clark was also very active as a teacher and as a member of numerous art clubs and artists’ associations. He taught at the Grand Central Art School, the National Arts Club, and the Art Students League in New York, as well as at the University of Virginia and the Savannah Art Club. Clark served as president of the National Academy of Design from 1956 to 1959 and also served as president of the American Watercolor Society and the Allied Artists of America. He was a founding member of the Kent Art Association, and a member of the Society of Painters of New York, the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts, the National Arts Club, the Salmagundi club, the International Society of Arts and letters, the Macdonald Club, and the Artists Fund Society.More by this Artist