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Kenneth Clark, Baron Clark

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Kenneth Clark, Baron Clark

by Graham Sutherland
oil on canvas, 1963-1964
21 1/2 in. x 18 in. (546 mm x 457 mm)
Purchased, 1979
Primary Collection
NPG 5243

Sitterback to top

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This portraitback to top

At the time this portrait was painted, in the early 1960s, Clark was a Trustee of the British Museum, on the Advisory Council of the Victoria and Albert Museum and had recently been Slade Professor at Oxford. Sittings took place in the garden of Sutherland's house at Trottiscliffe in Kent between February 1962 and December 1964. The artist has portrayed his old friend Clark in profile, echoing the 15th century Italian tradition.

Related worksback to top

  • NPG 5244: Kenneth Clark, Baron Clark (study)

Linked publicationsback to top

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  • Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery: An Illustrated Guide, 2000, p. 210
  • Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery, 1997, p. 210 Read entry

    Graham Sutherland, who was an old friend of Kenneth Clark and owed much to his support, has caught his arrogant character well. Clark retreated from his plutocratic upbringing as the son of a Scottish textile magnate into the world of the arts and became an extraordinarily dominant figure. Director of the National Gallery at the age of 31, he spent the 1950s as Chairman of the Arts Council and of the Independent Television Authority. At the time this portrait was painted, in the early 1960s - sittings took place in the garden of Sutherland's house at Trottiscliffe in Kent between February 1962 and December 1964 - Clark was a Trustee of the British Museum, on the Advisory Council of the Victoria and Albert Museum and had recently been Slade Professor at Oxford for the second time. It is hardly surprising that he looks like a highly refined mogul.

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 126
  • Simon, Jacob, The Art of the Picture Frame: Artists, Patrons and the Framing of Portraits in Britain, 1997 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 8 November 1996 - 9 February 1997), p. 37, 186 Read entry

    Obeche(?), mitred and probably pinned, the sight edge planted and the top edge nailed onto the main flat frieze, burnished water gilding on a deep grey-blue bole, the outer face of the frame painted a deep grey-blue when the frame was built up by the National Portrait Galley, probably repealing the existing colour. 3 1⁄ 4 inches wide.

    'Alfred Hecht, who liked describing himself as a picture frame-maker, was indeed a picture frame-maker, but in addition he had the gift of recognising genius before the general public came to recognise it'. So wrote Jennie Lee, like her husband, Aneurin Bevan, a Labour politician, who described evenings spent at Hecht's with artist friends, among them Henry Moore, Graham Sutherland, John Piper and Francis Bacon.1 Hecht came to England in the mid-1920s and after the war set up business as a framemaker at no.326, King's Road, Chelsea, where he lived and worked for almost forty-five years.2 He was Sutherland's framemaker from 1953 or before and was in the course of sitting for his portrait to Sutherland at the time of the artist's death in 1991.

    Sutherland's portrait of Kenneth Clark was exhibited in this burnished frame at the Sutherland exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in 1977 and was presumably framed by Hecht in 1964. Such simple gold leaf frames, often making a feature of the overlapping sheets of gold, form a Hecht hallmark.

    1 Jennie Lee, My Life with Nye, 1981 (Penguin edition), p 188.

    2 Derek Granger, 'Alfred Hecht', obituary in The Independent, 12 January 1991. The 1947 Kelly's Trade Directory, lists Hecht under art dealers.

    3 Roger Berthoud, Graham Sutherland. A Biography, 1982, pp 163, 288.

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Events of 1963back to top

Current affairs

The Secretary of State for War, John Profumo is found to have lied to the House of Commons when he denied having an affair with the showgirl, Christine Keeler. The Profumo Affair was a public scandal for the Conservative party, and ultimately contributed to the resignation of Harold Macmillan.

Art and science

Doctor Who is first broadcast on the BBC with William Hartnell playing the Doctor. This long running science fiction series about an alien Time Lord who travels through time and space in his police-box-shaped Tardis has been watched by generations of viewers (often from behind the back of the sofa), and features imaginative, but traditionally low-budget, special effects, innovative electronic music, and the Doctor's greatest enemy, the Daleks.

International

John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Texas. The arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald for his murder did not prevent a score of conspiracy theories involving Cuba, the CIA, the KGB, and the Mafia among others.
Martin Luther King delivers his 'I have a dream' speech, marking an important moment in the civil rights movement in America and helping to secure him the Nobel Peace Prize' in 1964.

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