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Seven paintings owned by W.A. Clark on display at Butte-Silver Bow Archives

First time these paintings were put on display in the archives
W.A. Clark Collection
Posted at 7:32 PM, Jun 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-10 21:32:55-04

BUTTE — Now is your chance to get a glimpse of the private collection of one of Butte’s most famous and controversial citizens.

The Butte-Silver Bow Archives will be displaying seven renowned artworks owned by William Clark.

Aubrey Jaap says this is the first time these paintings were put on display in the archives.

"In 2011, we hosted some additional paintings from his collection that were on loan from the Corcoran gallery when it was still a gallery," Jaap said.

After William Clark’s death in 1925, the family donated his vast collection of European art to the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. The collection was only donated to the Corcoran because it was rejected by New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Corcoran Gallery of Art closed its doors in 2014. More than 19,000 pieces of Clark’s art were distributed to the National Gallery of Art and other museums and galleries in and around Washington D.C.

Seven paintings owned by W.A. Clark on display at Butte-Silver Bow Archives

The Montana Museum of art and culture at the University of Montana was the only institution to acquire pieces from the collection outside of that region.

The seven masterpieces on display include works by French painters Jean-Charles Cazin, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Jules Dupre, Jean-Honore Fragonard, and the English painter Thomas Gainsborough.

I caught up with Pat Grogg, a retired professor from Illinois state university and a patron of the arts, who was marveling over the masterpieces once owned by Clark himself.

"I am very fond of art and I think Butte is so fortunate to have this- what is this a half dozen or seven works- but they’re very representative and they’re very accessible and to see them this close up... Butte is tons of interesting fun for a person not familiar with mining, but the art is like an extra pièce de résistance," Grogg said.

Jaap said there aren’t many opportunities in Montana to see masterpieces made by renowned 19-century painters.

"I think it’s really special that we can see this in our own community and it’s free and open to the public which is also really great. You know, we don’t charge any fee to come in so I think it’s a rare opportunity and very special." Jaap said.

The pieces will be on display until August 13.