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 Eliot Candee Clark  (1883 - 1980)

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Lived/Active: New York/Virginia      Known for: landscape and harbor view painting

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Eliot Candee Clark
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The Hotel Windsor Fire
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Son of landscape painter Walter Clark and Jennifer Woodruff Clark, a student of psychic phenomena, Eliot Clark was a precocious artist who became a landscape painter in the late American Impressionist style.  Moving to Albemarle, Virginia in 1932, he was one of the few Impressionist* artists of the Southern states.  Likely this was a result of his association with James Whistler and his painting in 1900 at Gloucester, Massachusetts with John Twachtman, a family friend.  Showing his obvious interest in Impressionism, he wrote a book about its exponents including Twachtman, Theodore Robinson, Childe Hassam, Julian Weir, and Robert Vonnoh.

Clark was a teacher including at the National Arts Club* from 1943, the Art Students League*, and New York City College.

Early in his youth, Clark traveled with his father and other prominent artists to paint in the summer art colonies at Annisquam, Gloucester, Chadd's Ford and Ogunquit where he met artists of stature such as Edward Potthast and John Henry Twachtman.  Clark's only formal instruction was a short two months at the Art Students League in New York.

His landscapes evoked a "spiritualized rendition of nature" that was to stay with him for the rest of his life.  Clark (perhaps related to his mother's interest in physic phenomena) developed an early interest in oriental philosophy that ended up having a major effect on his artistic development, the sense of spirituality in his landscape paintings slowly grew in importance.

Clark was educated in the New York public schools, and at age 13 exhibited with the National Academy and the New York WaterColor Club*.  By 1912, he had won national painting awards, and by 1916 was writing books on American artists as well as the history of the National Academy of Design.*.  In his early years Clark was privately tutored, and then later graduated from Washington Irving High School at the early age of fifteen.  Although he later was quoted as saying "he had no formal training from his father", his early work was notable influenced by Walter Clark's tonalist style.

Between 1904 and 1906, Clark studied in France in Paris and Giverny, and in London he saw the impressionist work of James Whistler.  He wrote to his father about the Whistler Exhibit stating that some of Whistler's work impressed him, "not so much in the handling, but in the use of color, and subtle arrangement of line and balance of masses."  He engaged in a "walking tour" of Europe with a fellow artist whom he met in earlier in Paris.  They visited many of the major galleries in Holland and then traveled through the Alps, finally reaching Venice on August 10, 1906.  In Venice, he produced some Whistlerian style pastels similar to the ones he had seen in the Whistler Exhibition.

He returned to New York in 1906, and a year later took a studio in the Van Dyke Studio Building on Eighth Avenue.  There working in the building were a diversified group of painters such as the Tonalist* artists Bruce Crane and Cullan Yates; the Impressionists were represented by Edward Dufner and Karl Anderson.
In 1912, he painted at the Grand Canyon, in New Mexico, the Painted Desert and northern Arizona, and in 1913, he was in California, painting in Yosemite.

In the 1920s and 1930s, he again painted landscapes in the Southwest including the Arizona Painted Desert in 1926 and 1935.  From 1922 to 1932, he lived primarily in Kent, Connecticut along the Housatonic river with such notable impressionist painters as Robert Nesbet and G. Glenn Newell.   In 1932, he moved to Albemarle County Virginia to escape from a bitter divorce with his first wife.  This led to a dark time for Clark who opted to travel abroad to find himself again rather than take the security of a teaching position, which was offered to him by the University of Georgia.

Because of his interest in eastern philosophy he traveled in the late 1930s to India for two years where he painted the Himalayas and also to Tibet.  He also painted in the Deep South in Charleston and Savannah where he set up his easel on the waterfronts and among oak groves.  In 1944 rejuvenated by a second marriage and election to the National Academy of Design, Clark returned to the Connecticut countryside to paint landscapes.  In the late 1940s Clark began to summer in Virginia where he ultimately returned for good in 1959, settling with his new wife in the "lovely hills" near Albemarle, Virginia.

He continued to paint almost to the end of his life, enjoying the solitude and peace of the surrounding environment where he could relate to canvas the subtleties of nature as only he could.  He was elected an associate member of the National Academy of Design in 1917 and full academician in 1944.  Clark was also president of the National Academy from 1956-1959.  He was a member/president of the American Watercolor Society*; president/member of Allied Artists of America*, 1948-52; ex officio trustee, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1956; National Academy of Design Awards Jury; Society of Painters of New York; Connecticut Association of Fine Art; Salmagundi Club*; International Society of Arts and Letters; Macdonald Club; Art Fund Society; New York Watercolor Club and others.

Clark exhibited at the New York Watercolor Club; National Academy of Design; American Art Association of Paris Annual Exhibition; Doll & Richards, Boston; Louis Katz Gallery, NY; Guild of Allied Artists, NY; Milwaukee Art Institute; Henry Reinhardt & Son, NY; Mohr Art Galleries; Butler Art Institute; Telfair Academy, Georgia; Rochester Art Association, Rochester, MN; J.W. Young Galleries; Atlanta Woman's Club; Fort Worth Museum of Art, Texas; Carnegie Public Library; Providence Art Club; Witt Memorial Museum, Texas; Nan Sheets Gallery, Oklahoma; Iran Institute and others.He taught at the Art Students'League; Savannah Art club; University of Virginia; Grand Central Art Gallery School and others.

Eliot Candee Clark passed away in 1980.

Written by Lonnie Pierson Dunbier

Peggy and Harold Samuels, The Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West
Robert M. Hicklin Jr., Inc., The Charleston Renaissance Gallery
Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art
William Gerdts, American Impressionism
Blake Benton Fine Art

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Painter Eliot Candee Clark won critical acclaim for his work at a very early age, and his landscapes continued to receive recognition throughout his long career.  Clark was also active as a teacher, art historian and officer in various art organizations.  

The artist was born in 1883, the son of landscape painter Walter Clark.  By age nine, Clark was exhibiting with the New York Water Color Club; at thirteen his work was hung in the National Academy of Design.  He was greatly influenced by family friend John Henry Twachtman with whom he studied at the Art Students League.  Between 1904 and 1906 Clark studied and traveled in Paris, Giverny, London, Venice, Madrid, and Toledo.  He returned to the United States in 1906 and continued to paint, showing the influence of James McNeill Whistler, whose work he had seen in London.  His own work became increasingly impressionistic.

In 1926 and again in 1935, Clark painted in the Southwest.  He traveled to India for two years in 1937, and there executed views of the Himalayas and of Indian scenes, such as Lake Palace, Udaipur, India (1938, location unknown).  He exhibited widely -- at the National Academy of Design, the Salmagundi Club, the American Water Color Society and elsewhere.  Woodrow Wilson purchased a painting by Clark entitled Rolling Hills (alternate title, Rolling Country, location unknown) during his  presidency.

Clark began writing early in his career.  He published biographies of four late 19th century American artists:  Alexander Wyant (1916), John Henry Twachtman (1924), J. Francis Murphy (1927) and Theodore Robinson (1979).  In addition to many essays and art reviews, he wrote a history of the National Academy of Design (1954).

Clark taught painting at several institutions, including the Art Students League and also lectured frequently on art.  His later landscapes show a movement away from impressionism toward a more realistic treatment.  He died in New York City in 1980.

Eliot Clark is represented in the Dayton Museum, Ohio; the Fort Worth Museum, Texas; the Maryland Institute, College of Art, Baltimore; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the National Academy of Design, New York; the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; and in many other public and private collections.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in NYC on March 27, 1883. Eliot was the son of artist Walter Clark. After studying briefly at the ASL under Potthast and Twachtman, he taught there during 1912-22. While based in NYC, he made painting trips to the West during the 1920s and 1930s. Small oils of Yosemite are extant. Member: Salmagundi Club; NA; NAC. Exh: NAD, 1912, 1922 (prizes); Biltmore Hotel (LA), 1928. In: NAD; Fort Worth Art Center; Maryland Inst. (Baltimore); MM; Woodrow Wilson House (Washington, DC); Baltimore Museum; San Antonio Museum; Dayton Art Inst.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
American Art Annual 1905-33; Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs, et Graveurs (Bénézit, E); Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors & Engravers (Fielding, Mantle); Artists of the American West (Samuels); Artists of the American West (Doris Dawdy); Who's Who in American Art 1936-78.
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

Biography from Charleston Renaissance Gallery:
Eliot Clark was the son of painter Walter Clark (1848-1917).  "As a child," he later wrote, "I grew unconsciously in the association of artists, of studio talk and the smell of paint and turpentine." (1) His earliest memories of his father's studio were when it was in the Holbein building in New York City -- above a stable and right next door to the studio of George Inness.  No doubt he was instructed at his father's easel from the youngest age (he exhibited two pieces at the New York Water Color Club when he was only nine years old). (2) His first classroom instruction began when he was seventeen. "While still going to school," Clark continued, "I studied in the afternoon for a term at the Art Students League under John Twachtman in the antique class." (3)

The two months with Twachtman was about the extent of Clark's academic training. His father believed that nature herself was the painter's best teacher and took Eliot with him on his own painting excursions.  Father and son spent the summer of 1900 together in East Gloucester, Massachusetts, where Twachtman, Frank Duveneck, and Edward Potthast also turned up. (4)

Clark's painted landscapes in a realist style, which employed broad areas of saturated color while keeping detail to a minimum.  He was very planar in his approach to the canvas, dividing it into obvious foreground, middle and background areas.  Often he used hills and banks of foliage to accomplish this division.  His painting Under the Trees, which employs trees to isolate groups of figures from one another, won for the young artist the Third Hallgarten Prize at the National Academy of Design in 1912. (5) This work falls into Clark's Tonalist phase, but over the years he painted more and more as an Impressionist, letting more light onto his canvas and increasing the intensity and vibrancy of his colors.

For most of his professional life, Clark divided his time between New York City and Kent, Connecticut, until 1932 when he bought a summer home amidst the rolling hills of Albermarle County, Virginia. (6) In New York he taught, he wrote, and he was active in artist's clubs.  He was elected president of the National Academy of Design in 1956. (7) But in The Old Dominion -- with the exception of two summers during the Depression when he taught at the University of Virginia -- he spent time traveling throughout the Tidewater, the Delmarva peninsula, and the mountains of western Virginia as well as neighboring West Virginia.  He retired to his Albermarle County home in 1959. (8)

1 Eliot Clark, "Notes from Memory," American Artist, vol. 21, no. 6, June, July, August 1957, p. 72.
2 Eliot Clark, N.A., Retrospective Exhibition, with introduction by David Lawall. Typescript to accompany an exhibition at The University of Virginia Art Museum, Charlottesville, March 2 - April 6, 1975, p. 24.
3 Clark, p. 88.
4 Lawall, p. 2.
5 Florence N. Levy, editor. American Art Annual, vol. X, New York: American Federation of Arts, 1913, illus. opp. p. 103.
6 Lawall, pp. 27-28.
7" People in the Arts," Arts, vol. 30, no. 7, April 1956, p. 8.
8Lawall, p. 28.

This essay is copyrighted by the Charleston Renaissance Gallery and may not be reproduced or transmitted without written permission from the Hicklin Galleries, LLC.

Biography from William R Talbot Fine Art:
Combining an influence from the Tonalist work of his father, Walter Clark, with tutelage from the great American artist John Twachtman, Eliot Clark (1883-1980) developed his own distinctive style of impressionism, which he adapted in different ways to suit the subject at hand.

A child prodigy, Clark learned to paint at his father's easel from a very young age. "As a child," he wrote in 1957, "I grew unconsciously in the association of artists, of studio talk and the smell of paint and turpentine." By the time he was 9, he had already exhibited at the New York Water Color Club and by age 13 at the National Academy. "While still going to school," Clark continued, "I studied in the afternoon for a term at the Art Students League under John Twachtman." The two months with Twachtman constituted the sum total of Clark's formal instruction. His father believed that nature was the best teacher, and consequently he took his son with him to paint in the summer art colonies at Annisquam, Gloucester, Chadd's Ford, and Ogunquit where they worked side by side with such notables as Twachtman, Edward Potthast, and Frank Duveneck.

From 1904 to 1906, Clark traveled to Europe, studying painting in Paris and Giverny. While in London he saw an exhibition of Whistler, whose use of color and subtle compositions had a substantial impact on Clark's subsequent work. Clark returned to New York in 1906 and began exhibiting regularly in national shows throughout the first decade of the twentieth century. During this time, he also made several trips West, where he painted scenes of northern Arizona, New Mexico, and California.

After spending the winter of 1921 painting in Kent, Connecticut, Clark moved there from New York and lived for the next 10 years on the nearby Housatonic River on the state's western border. A bitter divorce led him to retreat to Albemarle County, Virginia, and to travels during the late 1930s to India and Tibet. In 1944, Clark remarried and returned to the Connecticut countryside to resume his plein-air studies of the surrounding hills and lakes. This is likely to have been the period during which Clark painted the work offered here. In the late 1940s, he began to summer once more in Virginia where he ultimately returned in 1959, settling with his new wife in rural Albemarle.

Throughout the rest of his life, Clark remained active as an artist, an art historian, and a member of numerous art clubs. Between 1956 and 1959, he served as president of the National Academy of Design. He continued his work in both painting and writing until his death in Charlottesville, Virginia, at age 97.

Refs.: Estill Curtis Pennington, Celebrating Southern Art (Augusta, Georgia: Morris Museum of Art, 1997); Peggy and Harold Samuels, The Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

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