Clark, Kenneth Mackenzie

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Clark, Kenneth Mackenzie

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1903-1983

History

Kenneth Mackenzie Clark (1903–1983) was a patron and inspector of the arts. He was born in London, England, the only child of Kenneth Mackenzie Clark and Margaret Alice McArthur. He married Elizabeth Winifred (’Jane’) Martin. She died in 1976; they had a son, politician Alan Clark, and a twin son and daughter. In 1977 he married Nolwen, former wife of Edward Rice and daughter of Frederic, Comte de Janzé. Clark died in Hythe, Kent, England.

Kenneth Clark was educated at Winchester and won a scholarship to Trinity College, Oxford, where he gained a second class in modern history in 1925. In the autumn of 1925 art historian Bernhard Berenson asked him to assist him in the revision of his corpus of Florentine drawings. In 1929 he was offered the task of cataloguing Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings held at Windsor Castle. He also helped organize an exhibition of Italian painting at the Royal Academy. In 1931 he was appointed keeper of the department of fine art at the Ashmolean in Oxford. In 1933 he was appointed director of the National Gallery in London (1934–45) and shortly afterwards surveyor of the King’s Pictures (1934–44). During the war he served in the Ministry of Information (1939–41). In 1946 he resigned from the National Gallery to devote himself to his writing. Between 1946 and 1950 he was Slade Professor of fine art at Oxford. He also became known as a broadcaster in such programmes as The Brain’s Trust. As a collector-patron of the arts he supported several artists including Henry Moore. In 1939–40 he was involved with the setting up of the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts, which subsequently became the Arts Council of which he was chairman between 1953 and 1960. From 1954 to 1957 he was chairman of the Independent Television Authority. In 1966 the programme series Civilisation was mooted with the BBC and finally broadcast in 1969. He was Chancellor of York University from 1969–79 and a trustee of the British Museum.

Clark received the following honours: KCB (1938), FBA (1949), CH (1959), life peerage (1969) and OM (1976). Universities and academies in Britain, America, France, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Austria and Finland conferred Honourary degrees, fellowships, and distinctions on him. He was appointed to the Conseil Artistique des Musées Nationaux, Paris. His publications include: The Gothic Revival (1928), Catalogue of the Windsor Leonardo Drawings (1935), Leonardo da Vinci. An Account of his Development as an Artist (1939), Piero della Francesca (1951), The Nude (1956), The Gothic Revival (1962), Rembrandt and the Italian Renaissance (1966), Civilization (1969), Blake and Visionary Art (1973), and The Romantic Rebellion: Romantic versus Classic Art (1986).

Source: The Dictionary of National Biography, 1981–1985 / Lord Blake and C.S. Nicholls. / – Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990

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Victoria University Library - Special Collections

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