Thomas Shields Clarke

Portrait of Thomas Shields Clarke  
by Frank Duveneck, circa 1883-84 
© Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA
Thomas Shields Clarke (April 25, 1860 - November 15, 1920), an American artist, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Princeton University in 1882. He was a pupil of the Art Students League, New York City, and of the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris, under J. L. Grime; later he entered the atelier of Dagnan-Bouveret, and, becoming interested in sculpture, worked for a while under Henri M. Chapu. As a sculptor, he received a medal of honor in Madrid for his The Cider Press, and he made four caryatids of The Seasons for the Appellate Court House in New York City. He designed an Alma Mater for Princeton University. Among his most famous paintings is his Night Market in Morocco, for which he received a medal at the International Exposition in Berlin in 1891, and his A Fool's Fool, exhibited at the Salon in 1887.

Photo by Jeremy Borkat

I have been researching the life and work of Mr. Clarke since 1988. My research has led me to New Jersey's Princeton University; Rhode Island's Brown University Library; Pennsylvania's Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; Massachusetts' Lenox Library, Pittsfield Antheneum,  Berkshire Museum, Stockbridge Library, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute Library; and to numerous telephone calls, and further internet searches.

This website represents research that I intermittently conducted over the past twenty years on Mr. Clarke. One would think that there would be books written about him, especially someone of his stature. However, this is not the case. He was mentioned in various articles in magazines during his lifetime, and in some reference books listing American painters and sculptors. The only information available about him, up until now, was what is written in the introduction above.  

Since I first published this website I have had the great fortune of having some of Mr. Clarke's descendants contact me. I cannot say enough how much of an honour this has been for me.

I also had contact with the grandson of Mr. Clarke's gardener at Fernbrook. I was able to share some information and photographs I have of Fernbrook. In exchange, he offered a copy of a letter of recommendation from Mr. Clarke.   

Every now and then some work of Mr. Clarke's will show up at auction. For example, in 1991, an oil painting titled Japanese Girl, was sold at an estate auction. In 1993, a painting titled Roses in a Brown Pitcher, sold at an auction for $400.00. In 2005, a bronze medal he created sold on eBay for $540.00. And another one in 2007 sold for only $178.00. Sometimes articles from old magazines featuring one of his paintings will pop up on eBay. And, over the last couple years (now even) one of his bronze sculptures, Cupid's Sundial, has made an appearance on the circuit. Its fate is uncertain at this time.

In July of 2008, I had the most extraordinary experience. I went to the Berkshire Museum, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, to view an exhibit. Afterward, I strolled through the American Fine Arts area. There, a painting caught my attention. It was Mr. Clarke's Dawn of a New Life. Being an unexpected find, as this was, makes moments like these all the more special. (As a celebration of that great find, that very day I purchased a nice frame for a print of that painting I have from Century Magazine. It now hangs in my study.)   

I have also had the thrill of finally being able to see Mr. Clarke's A Fool's Fool in colour. A print of it is available at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts website.

Another thrill to share with you is regarding his sculpture The Apple Cider Press, in San Francisco, California. It was moved for the building of the deYoung Museum parking garage. The Apple Cider Press has been reinstalled to its original site opposite the deYoung Museum. A part of the sculpture, a bucket, had been found missing. On July 29th 2008, the fine art handlers installed a re-fabricated bucket. 

In early August of 2008, a wealth of information opened the floodgates! As soon as I assimilate all the material, I'll be sure to add it to this website.

I am proud to present the life and work of Thomas Shields Clarke on this website. This is the most comprehensive biography and documentation of his work availableANYWHERE!

Consider this a work in progress. For, as more data becomes available, I'll be sure to update this website.

This site was created October 2005 and is owned and operated by C.A. Chicoine. And it was last updated October 2017. No material from the site may be copied, reproduced, republished, uploaded, posed, transmitted, or distributed in any way, except that you may download one copy of the materials on any single computer for your non-commercial use only, provided that you keep intact all copyright and other proprietary notices. Modification of the materials or use of the materials for any other purpose is a violation of this site owner's copyright and other proprietary rights. The use of any such material on any other Web site or networked computer environment is prohibited.

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