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 Thomas Clark  (c. 1814 - 1883)

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Lived/Active: United Kingdom/Australia      Known for: painting, engraving

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Ad Code: 3
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from Auction House Records.
Murndal In The Early Days, 1860
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Thomas Clark (1814?-1883)

Born in London, he was the son of  artist Thomas Clark and his wife Susan, née Ashley. He was said to have been director of the Nottingham School of Arts before he was appointed anatomical draftsman at King's College, London, in 1843, winning awards from the Royal Society of Arts: the gold medal for landscape painting and the first silver medal for engraving.  In February 1846 he was appointed headmaster of the government School of Design, Birmingham.  One of his pupils was (Sir) Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898).  In December, Clark was also appointed drawing-master at the King Edward's School of Design but resigned from King Edward's in March 1851 and soon afterward left Birmingham.

Clark arrived in Victoria, Australia with his family probably in 1852; and had several pictures in the exhibition of the Society of Fine Arts in February 1857.  He was commissioned to paint a portrait of Sir Henry Barkly, governor of Victoria in 1856-63, which was presented to the government in 1868 and is now in the National Gallery of Victoria.  In 1869-70 he was briefly instructor in figure drawing at the Carlton School of Design.  In 1870, Clark was appointed drawing-master in the newly-created School of Design connected with the National Gallery.  It opened with thirty-five pupils and flourished under Clark's guidance.

Clark was a member of the council when the Victorian Academy of Art was founded in 1870.  He did not exhibit with them, but he was still connected with the academy in 1872 as a member but no longer on the council, probably because of ill health.  In July 1875 he applied for a short leave.  His health had deteriorated and by 1876 the trustees asked him to resign.  Aged 68, Clark died on April 21, 1883 at South Yarra.  He and  his wife Jane, daughter of the philanthropic Thomas Clarkson, had two sons and four daughters.  One of the sons, Alfred Thomas, represented Williamstown in the Victorian parliament.

Select Bibliography:
J. A. Langford, Modern Birmingham and its Institutions, vols 1-2 (Birmingham, nd); Victorian Academy of Arts, The First and Second Exhibitions (Melb, 1870, 1872); E. La T. Armstrong, The Book of the Public Library, Museums, and National Gallery of Victoria: 1856-1906 (Melb, 1906); Public Library, Museums, & National Gallery of Victoria, Trustees Report, Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, Victoria), 1892-96; Argus (Melbourne), 23 May 1883, 25 Apr 1888; National Gallery of Victoria, letters, box 7, and drawing-master applications 1868-70 (Public Record Office Victoria).

Ann Galbally, 'Clark, Thomas (1814? - 1883)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, Melbourne University Press, 1969, pp 408-409

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