‘Copper King’ Art Arrives at UM

Works from famous painters now belong to Montana Museum of Art & Culture’s Permanent Collection at UM


Categories: Campus , History , Research , Arts

Works from famous painters – including Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Jean-Charles Cazin, Jules Dupré and others – now belong to the Montana Museum of Art & Culture’s Permanent Collection at UM.

The works share a common thread: They once were part of the estate of “Copper King” William Andrews Clark, a former Montana senator with expensive taste and the wealth to satisfy it. When the real estate tycoon and railroad magnate died in 1925, his fortune was calculated at more than $200 million – equivalent to nearly $3 billion in contemporary terms.

When the Corcoran Art Gallery in Washington, D.C., was shuttered in 2014, much of Clark’s collection was redistributed.

The National Gallery of Art received the largest donation at 8,596 pieces, and it was tasked with distributing the balance of the works to other, mostly Washington, D.C.-area institutions. However, an exception was made for a few important pieces to transfer to Montana and into the Permanent Collection of UM’s MMAC.

“The trustees were pleased and honored to make this contribution to the Montana Museum of Art and Culture,” says Harry Hopper, chairman of the Corcoran Board of Trustees. “For these works to find a permanent home in Montana is perfect.”

MMAC received three paintings by Corot, two by Cazin, one by Dupré, one by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, one by Thomas Gainsborough and a sculpture attributed to Donatello.

MMAC Director Barbara Koostra says the museum is deeply grateful to MMAC Advancement Council member Nancy Matthews, a longtime Washington, D.C., resident who now resides in Missoula.

“She was instrumental in advancing the idea that some of these treasures come to Montana over the last two years,” Koostra says. “The wealth that Clark acquired to purchase these pieces was in large measure derived from Montana soil and citizens. We are pleased they will be in Montana permanently.”

The nine works will be featured in an inaugural exhibition from Oct. 4 to June 16, 2019. Programs highlighting the life and times of Clark will be featured, and MMAC will host its opening reception from 3 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4.
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