A Century of Giving

Section Two: 1937-1967

Mid-20th century consolidation: Louis Clarke & Carl Winter

Image["Limoges painted panel"]

Aeneas and the Sybil in the Underworld Limoges painted enamels
Fitzwilliam Museum

In 1937, Louis Clarke was appointed successor to Sir Sydney Cockerell as Director. A great collector, with wide ranging tastes, Clarke also made a significant impact on the Fitzwilliam. In addition to some 2,700 items given in his lifetime, he bequeathed the Museum his own collection of paintings, drawings, prints and decorative arts.

For most of Clarke's directorship, Britain was at war. During this time - although the collections were largely dispersed for safekeeping - Clarke organised many temporary exhibitions in the Museum. He also used the Friends' fund to snap up bargains in the war-time salerooms, including a portrait by Peter Lely (now identified as Mary Parsons) for only £4, and a rare album of 18th century woodblocks prints by the great Japanese printmaker Utamaro.

Image["Peter Lely, portrait of Mary Parsons"]

Peter Lely
Portrait of a Lady

oil on canvas, c.1665
Fitzwilliam Museum

Image["Jacob Epstein, Louis Clarke"]

Jacob Epstein
Louis Clarke

bronze, 1951
Fitzwilliam Museum
currently on loan to
Trinity Hall,

Clarke retired in 1946, although he continued his association as Honorary Keeper of Prints. To commemorate his retirement, the Friends commissioned a bust of him from the sculptor, Jacob Epstein.

The post-war period, under Carl Winter (1946-1966) and Jack Goodison (acting Director 1966-7), was a time of both consolidation and considerable expansion of the collections.

Although money remained scarce in the Museum, important acquisitions continued to be made, thanks to the support of the Friends. They included the Beauvais tapestry of Apollo & Clytie (given 1949) which now graces the Courtauld staircase, and the Lute Book of Lord Herbert (given 1956) which reinforced the strong musical theme of the collection.

By 1952, the Director was able to report:

There is scarcely a wall, or a case, that does not exhibit one or more admirable works of art given during the last 44 years by the Friends. It is impossible to imagine the Fitzwilliam without this ever-growing array of familiar, favourite objects which it owes to the collective effort, the practical personal regard and generosity of this body.

Image["John Smart, Indian Prince"]

John Smart
An Indian Prince

watercolour on ivory
Fitzwilliam Museum

Image["Desportes, Sketches of a kitten"]

Alexandre Françis Desportes
Sketches of a kitten

oils on paper, c.1712
Fitzwilliam Museum


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click on images below for information about each exhibit

Image["Renaissance parade helmet"]

Renaissance parade helmet
Milanese, c.1540-45

Image["Darning sampler"]

Jane Brady
darning sampler


Image["Stanley Spencer, Self-portait"]

Stanley Spencer


Image["Utamaro woodcut"]

Kitagawa Utamaro
album of woodcuts

Image["Nicholas Hilliard, portrait of Henry Percy"]

Nicholas Hilliard
Henry Percy


Image["Lute Book of Lord Herbert of Cherbury"]

The Lute Book of Lord Herbert of Cherbury

The Fitzwilliam Museum : 1937-1967

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