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Thomas Benedict Clarke scrapbooks, 1880-1936, bulk, 1883-1920

Thomas Benedict Clarke scrapbooks, 1880-1936, bulk, 1883-1920

Clarke, Thomas B. (Thomas Benedict), 1848-1931


Collection Information

Size: 2.6 linear feet

Summary: The scrapbooks of Thomas Benedict Clarke measure 2.6 linear feet and date from 1880-1930. Twelve scrapbooks contain mostly newspaper clippings, but also include correspondence, invitations, exhibition catalogs, programs, magazine articles, art auction catalogs, and other material relating to Clarke's personal art collection and general art patronage. The scrapbooks also include clippings and miscellany relating to the Clarke family and influential society clubs, such as the Union League, Lambs, and New York Athletic clubs.

Scrapbook 1 dates from 1880-1884 and includes information about the Lincoln Club, the Century Association, Motto Club, Rembrandt Club, Merchants Club, Art Club, and Union League Club. Scrapbook 2 dates from 1883-1884 and includes an index of artists in the Clarke art colletion, as well as information about the artists. Scrapbook 3 dates from 1887-1889 and includes information about artists Vasily Vereshchagin and Antoine Louis-Barye. Scrapbook 5 dates from 1891-1894 and contains clippings about the Clarke Prize, the opening of Clarke's "Art House" in Manhattan, N.Y., the 1891 Clarke exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the 1892 Columbian Loan Exhibition, and the 1893 Worlds' Columbian Exhibition. Scrapbook 6 dates from 1891-1902 and includes clippings regarding the art and auction sales of Greek, Continental, Persian, and Oriental antiquities, rugs, and porcelains.

Scrapbook 7 dates from 1894-1898 and covers Clarke's support of Justice Frederick Smyth, his parents' 50th anniversary celebration, his daughter's society introduction reception, and events at the Lambs and Union League Clubs. Scrapbook 8 dates from 1894-1920 and houses announcements of the George Inness memorial exhibition, coverage of the Inness 1895 estate auction sale, copies of correspondence between Inness and Clarke, and two original photographs of Inness' studio. Scrapbook 9 is dated 1899-1900 and includes coverage of events at clubs, particularly the Lambs and Union League clubs, the Clarke Prize, Paris Exposition, Dewey Arch, and the private art collection of William T. Evans. Scrapbook 10 dates from 1899-1936 and consists primarily of coverage of the 1899 Clarke art auction to fund the National Academy of Design's Clarke prize. Scrapbook 11 dates from 1900-1902 and covers Clarke's Hampton cottage, his daughter's marriage and divorce suit, the New York School of Design for Women, and the Academy of Design annual exhibition. Scrapbook 12 is dated from 1899-1918 contains clippings regarding William Tilden Evans, a contemporary art collector and friend of Clarke's.

A 670 page annotated index of Books 1-6 and Books 10-12 is available on microfilm reels N598-N599.

Biographical/Historical Note

Thomas B. Clarke (1848-1931) was a collector from New York, N.Y.


The scrapbooks of Thomas Benedict Clarke were donated by the Whitney Museum of Art director, Lloyd Goodrich, in 1978.

Related Materials

Also found in the Archives are Letters to Thomas B. Clarke from artists, 1883-1918 and the handwritten catalog Private art collection of Thomas B. Clarke, 1872-1879, both of which have been microfilmed and are available on reels D5 and 2802.


Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

A Finding Aid to the Thomas Benedict Clarke Scrapbooks,
bulk 1883-1920
, in the Archives of American Art
Biographical Note
Thomas Benedict Clarke (1848-1931) was a prominent New York businessman and one of the first major collectors of contemporary American paintings in the 1870s-1880s. He purchased his first painting in 1872 and eventually amassed one of the largest private collections of American art at the turn of the century.
After retiring from the business world, Clarke served as President of the New York School of Applied Design for Women, Treasurer of the National Society of Arts, and Chairman of the House Committee of the Union League Club. He was a founding member of the National Sculpture Society and National Arts Club, and founded the Clarke Prize of the National Academy of Design in 1883. He was also a member of several New York gentlemen's clubs, including the Century, Lotos, Lamb, and Manhattan Clubs.
In 1890, Clarke announced he would no longer officially acquire or deal in works of art, except as an agent for his friend, George Inness. Concentrating his attentions on a new venture, in 1891, he opened "Art House" off of Fifth Avenue in New York City, a showcase for English furniture, Oriental porcelains, and Continental antiquities. In 1899, he announced he would be putting his collection of 375 American paintings up for sale during a landmark, week-long auction at the American Art Association. Included in the sale were 32 works by George Inness and 30 works by Winslow Homer.
In 1912, Clarke returned to active art collecting, this time focusing his energies on building a collection of Colonial American art.
The collection is arranged into 1 series:
Series 1: Scrapbooks, 1880-1936 (Boxes 1-2, 4 BVs; 2.6 linear feet)
The scrapbooks of Thomas Benedict Clarke were donated by the Whitney Museum of Art director, Lloyd Goodrich, in 1978.
Processing Information
The scrapbooks were microfilmed shortly after receipt on reels N597-N599 and 1358. The collection was additionally processed and preserved, and described in this finding aid by Judy Ng in April 2011 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Additional Forms Available

The collection is available on 35 mm microfilm reels N597-N599 and 1358 at Archives of American Art offices, and through interlibrary loan. The order of the material on film does not match the current chronological order of the scrapbooks.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Thomas Benedict Clarke scrapbooks, 1880-1936, bulk, 1883-1920. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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