WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Clark Art Institute recently added three new paintings to its permanent collection, enhancing its holdings of works by women artists. The paintings, two by Marguerite Gerard and one by Evelyn De Morgan, are the first by either artist to enter the Clark’s collection.
“Working more than a century apart, Marguerite Gerard and Evelyn De Morgan used their paintings to reflect on the lives of women and the politics of their days,” said Esther Bell, deputy director and Robert and Martha Berman Lipp Chief Curator of the Clark, in a statement. “We are making a concerted effort to expand the Clark’s permanent collection to include artists who have not received the attention they so richly deserve. We are delighted to introduce these talented artists to our visitors and add their voices and perspectives to the stories we share in our galleries.”
The Clark acquired two companion paintings by Gerard, “The Nursing Mother (La Mere nourrice)” and “The Capricious Child (L’enfant capricieux).” The paintings, both executed in 1804, have been in private hands for more than 200 years and have not been exhibited publicly since the early 19th century.
The sensitively rendered paintings were exhibited as pendants in the Salon of 1804 in Paris and earned Gerard the Medaille d’Or (gold medal) for artistic achievement. The superb examples of the painter’s intimate interiors meticulously present domestic narratives, with “The Nursing Mother” depicting a caretaker supporting a child as he eagerly toddles toward his mother who extends her hand and waits to nurse him. In “The Capricious Child,” a child stubbornly turns away from his mother, refusing to leave the arms of his wet nurse. In that time, Gerard’s paintings actively stimulated debate and conversation around women, breastfeeding and motherhood. Viewed alongside one another, the paintings offer alternate visions of motherhood, with “The Nursing Mother” representing the ideal, or bonne mere, and “The Capricious Child” the unideal, or mauvaise mere.
For information, visit clarkart.edu or call 413-458-2303.