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The Anthony M. Clark Archive of Photographs and Scholarly Papers

By Melissa Beck Lemke - 22. September 2023
An introduction to the Anthony M. Clark Archive at the National Gallery of Art Library, Washington D.C.

The bulk of the Anthony M. Clark Archive came to the National Gallery of Art Library’s Department of Image Collections in 2012 through the generosity of Edgar Peters Bowron (Pete).[1] The Archive is a rich collection documenting not only Tony Clark’s interest in Roman Settecento painting, but also artists of all media across Europe. It consists of photographs, research notes, portrait engravings and miscellaneous files related to his personal art collection, teaching, and scholarship.[2]

The addition of the Clark Archive was transformative for the department of Image Collections’ 18th-century holdings. It added over 11,000 black-and-white photographs and color transparencies of paintings, drawings, and sculptures by nearly 300 artists. These photos were taken by the leading fine arts photographers in Berlin (Jorg, P. Anders, Walter Steinkopf); London (A. C. Cooper, Courtauld Institute Photographic Survey, Prudence Cuming, R. B. Fleming & Co. Ltd., Sydney Newbery); and Rome (Alinari/Anderson, Gabinetto Fotografico Nazionale, Foto F. Rigamonti, Foto Oscar Saverio, Foto Vasari) among others. They are often annotated or accompanied by letters and other ephemera which have been filed together within the photo archive (fig. 1). The decision to incorporate the Clark materials into the NGA’s photo archive allows researchers to view them alongside photographs obtained from dealers, photographers, and other scholars providing a broader view of each subject.

Fig. 1 Photograph and letters regarding Pietro Bianchi, Clio Holding a Trumpet and Herodotus

Tony’s work is not only documented through the photos, but also in 61 small 6-ringed binders which record his research and thoughts on nearly 1,300 artists, as well as hundreds of historical personalities, dealers, collections, churches, and palaces. [3] The notebooks are characterized by Tony’s small script and charming drawings (fig. 2). They contain both a sense of immediacy and painstaking detail. One can imagine him making notes and sketches within a church or museum and slipping the small book back into his jacket pocket. In many cases these sketches could later be referenced alongside photographs from his collection (figs. 3–4). Other pages evoke an aura of great concentration with copious notes from books, archives, bibliographies, and monographic lists. Occasionally Clark inserted a postcard, photocopy, book reproduction, or actual photograph into the notebooks.

Fig. 2 Notebook entry for Tommaso Conca
Fig. 3 Drawing by Tony Clark of Giuseppe Cades, Saint Mark
Fig. 4 Giuseppe Cades, Saint Mark

The artists most significantly represented are: Pompeo Batoni (11 books), Giuseppe and Pier Leone Ghezzi (1 book), Sebastiano Conca (231 pages), Giuseppe Cades (177 pages), Corrado Giaquinto (132 pages), Carlo Maratti (130 pages), Benedetto Luti (125 pages), Antonio Cavallucci (112 pages), Angelika Kauffmann (110 pages), and Francesco Trevisani (106 pages). His concentration on Kauffmann is noteworthy considering the paucity of scholarship on female artists at the time. Clark’s extant artist lists include eleven other women of varying levels of renown.[4]

Tony was a scholar of 18th-century Europe, not only its painters and sculptors, but also scientists, humanists, poets, royals, and religious figures as evidenced by his notebooks entitled ‘Persons’. His interest in these figures is also revealed in his small collection of engravings. These include 32 portraits of cardinals from the series ‘Effigies nomina et cognomina S.R.E. cardinalium’, and another 25 depicting various 18th-century personalities and miscellaneous compositions (fig. 5).

Fig. 5 Giuseppe Benaglia, Francesco Bracciolini

The notebooks and photo archive stand as a monument to Clark’s extensive, but unfortunately often unrealized studies. Pete continued much of Tony’s work after his untimely death, especially in his publications on Luti (1979 dissertation) and Batoni (2016). Pete’s mark has literally been left on the Clark Archive with sizable additions to the photo collection and notations within the notebooks themselves.[5] This material’s inclusion in the National Gallery’s Image Collections will ensure its preservation and accessibility for other scholars to continue Tony’s work. For more information on the archive see the collection summary in the National Gallery’s Image Collections database.[6]❖

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MELISSA BECK LEMKE (MISSY) is the Image Specialist for Italian Art in the National Gallery of Art’s Department of Image Collections where she has cared for over 16 million images since 1999. In addition to the Clark Archive, she has notably worked on the Kress Collection of Historic Images, the archives of Richard Offner and Foto Reali, and presented In the Library: Verrocchio, Connoisseurship, and the Photographs of Clarence Kennedy at the Gallery.