Kenneth Clark
Kenneth McKenzie Clark, Baron Clark, OM, CH, KCB
Order of the Bath
The Most Honourable Order of the Bath is a British order of chivalry founded by George I on 18 May 1725. The name derives from the elaborate mediæval ceremony for creating a knight, which involved bathing as one of its elements. The knights so created were known as Knights of the Bath...

, FBA (13 July 1903 – 21 May 1983) was a British author, museum director, broadcaster, and one of the best-known art historians
Art history
Art history has historically been understood as the academic study of objects of art in their historical development and stylistic contexts, i.e. genre, design, format, and style...

 of his generation. In 1969, he achieved an international popular presence as the writer, producer, and presenter of the BBC Television series, Civilisation.

Early years

Clark was born in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, the only child of Kenneth MacKenzie Clark and Margaret Alice McArthur. The Clarks were a wealthy Scottish
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 family with roots in the textile trade (the "Clark" in Coats & Clark threading). His great, great grandfather had invented the cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

Spool can mean one of the following:*Spool, a usually low-flanged or unflanged cylinder on which thread, wire, cable, paper, film, or tape is wound for distribution or use....

. Kenneth Clark the elder had retired in 1909 at the age of 41 to become a member of the 'idle rich' (as described by W. D. Rubinstein
W. D. Rubinstein
William D. Rubinstein is a historian and author. His best-known work, Men of Property: The Very Wealthy in Britain Since the Industrial Revolution, charts the rise of the 'super rich', a class he sees as expanding exponentially....

 in The Biographical Dictionary of Life Peers).

Clark was educated at Winchester College
Winchester College
Winchester College is an independent school for boys in the British public school tradition, situated in Winchester, Hampshire, the former capital of England. It has existed in its present location for over 600 years and claims the longest unbroken history of any school in England...

 and Trinity College, Oxford
Trinity College, Oxford
The College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity in the University of Oxford, of the foundation of Sir Thomas Pope , or Trinity College for short, is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. It stands on Broad Street, next door to Balliol College and Blackwells bookshop,...

, where he studied the history of art. In 1927 he married a fellow Oxford student, Elizabeth Jane Martin, who was Irish
Irish people
The Irish people are an ethnic group who originate in Ireland, an island in northwestern Europe. Ireland has been populated for around 9,000 years , with the Irish people's earliest ancestors recorded having legends of being descended from groups such as the Nemedians, Fomorians, Fir Bolg, Tuatha...

. The couple had three children: Alan
Alan Clark
Alan Kenneth Mackenzie Clark was a British Conservative MP and diarist. He served as a junior minister in Margaret Thatcher's governments at the Departments of Employment, Trade, and Defence, and became a privy counsellor in 1991...

, in 1928, and twins Colette (known as Celly) and Colin
Colin Clark (filmmaker)
Colin Clark was a British writer and filmmaker who specialised in films for cinema and television about the arts...

 in 1932.

Early career

A protégé of the most influential art critic
Art critic
An art critic is a person who specializes in evaluating art. Their written critiques, or reviews, are published in newspapers, magazines, books and on web sites...

 of the time, Bernard Berenson
Bernard Berenson
Bernard Berenson was an American art historian specializing in the Renaissance. He was a major figure in pioneering art attribution and therefore establishing the market for paintings by the "Old Masters".-Personal life:...

, Clark quickly became the British art establishment's most respected aesthetician. After a stint as fine arts curator at Oxford's Ashmolean Museum
Ashmolean Museum
The Ashmolean Museum on Beaumont Street, Oxford, England, is the world's first university museum...

, in 1933 at age 30, Clark was appointed director of the National Gallery
National Gallery, London
The National Gallery is an art museum on Trafalgar Square, London, United Kingdom. Founded in 1824, it houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900. The gallery is an exempt charity, and a non-departmental public body of the Department for Culture, Media...

. He was the youngest person ever to hold the post. The following year he also became Surveyor of the King's Pictures
Royal Collection
The Royal Collection is the art collection of the British Royal Family. It is property of the monarch as sovereign, but is held in trust for her successors and the nation. It contains over 7,000 paintings, 40,000 watercolours and drawings, and about 150,000 old master prints, as well as historical...

, a post he held until 1945. As Director of the National Gallery he oversaw the successful relocation and storage of the collection to avoid the Blitz and continued a programme of concerts and performances. He was a controversial figure however, in part due to his distaste for much of modern art
Modern art
Modern art includes artistic works produced during the period extending roughly from the 1860s to the 1970s, and denotes the style and philosophy of the art produced during that era. The term is usually associated with art in which the traditions of the past have been thrown aside in a spirit of...

 and Post-Modernist thought. Nevertheless, he was an influential supporter of modern sculptor Henry Moore
Henry Moore
Henry Spencer Moore OM CH FBA was an English sculptor and artist. He was best known for his semi-abstract monumental bronze sculptures which are located around the world as public works of art....

 and, as Chairman of the War Artists Advisory Committee, he persuaded the government not to conscript artists thus ensuring that Moore found work. He was also an advisor to the Ministry of Information commissioning Dylan Thomas
Dylan Thomas
Dylan Marlais Thomas was a Welsh poet and writer, Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 11 January 2008. who wrote exclusively in English. In addition to poetry, he wrote short stories and scripts for film and radio, which he often performed himself...

 amongst others to write scripts for propaganda films. In 1946 Clark resigned his directorship in order to devote more time to writing. Between 1946 and 1950 he was Slade Professor of Fine Art
Slade Professor of Fine Art
The Slade Professorship of Fine Art is the oldest professorship of art at the universities of Cambridge, Oxford and London.-History:The chairs were founded concurrently in 1869 by a bequest from the art collector and philanthropist Felix Slade, with studentships also created in the University of...

 at Oxford
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

. He was a founding board member and also served as Chairman of the Arts Council of Great Britain
Arts Council of Great Britain
The Arts Council of Great Britain was a non-departmental public body dedicated to the promotion of the fine arts in Great Britain. The Arts Council of Great Britain was divided in 1994 to form the Arts Council of England , the Scottish Arts Council, and the Arts Council of Wales...

 from 1955 to 1960, and had a major role in the art programme of the Festival of Britain
Festival of Britain
The Festival of Britain was a national exhibition in Britain in the summer of 1951. It was organised by the government to give Britons a feeling of recovery in the aftermath of war and to promote good quality design in the rebuilding of British towns and cities. The Festival's centrepiece was in...


Kenneth Clark was created Knight Commander of the Bath
Order of the Bath
The Most Honourable Order of the Bath is a British order of chivalry founded by George I on 18 May 1725. The name derives from the elaborate mediæval ceremony for creating a knight, which involved bathing as one of its elements. The knights so created were known as Knights of the Bath...

 in 1938, and made a Companion of Honour
Order of the Companions of Honour
The Order of the Companions of Honour is an order of the Commonwealth realms. It was founded by King George V in June 1917, as a reward for outstanding achievements in the arts, literature, music, science, politics, industry or religion....

 in 1959. He also received the Order of Merit in 1976. In 1955 he purchased Saltwood Castle
Saltwood Castle
Saltwood Castle is a castle in Saltwood village—which derives its name from the castle—1 mile north of Hythe, Kent, England.The castle is known as the site where the plot was hatched to assassinate Thomas Becket...

 in Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...


Clark the broadcaster

An indefatigable lecturer in both academic and broadcast settings, Clark's mastery was to make accessible complex and profound subject matter that could then be appreciated by an extremely broad audience. He was one of the founders, in 1954, of the Independent Television Authority
Independent Television Authority
The Independent Television Authority was an agency created by the Television Act 1954 to supervise the creation of "Independent Television" , the first commercial television network in the United Kingdom...

, serving as its Chairman until 1957, when he moved to ITA's rival BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

. In 1969 he wrote and presented Civilisation for BBC television, a series on the history of Western civilisation as seen through its art. Also broadcast on PBS in 1969, Civilisation was successful on both sides of the Atlantic, gaining Clark an international profile. According to Clark, the series was created in answer to the growing criticism of Western Civilisation, from its value system to its heroes. In 1970, the Irish
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 national newspaper TV critics honoured Clark with a Jacob's Award for Civilisation.

A self-described "hero-worshipper", Clark proved to be an ardent pro-individualist, Humanist
Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. In philosophy and social science, humanism is a perspective which affirms some notion of human nature, and is contrasted with anti-humanism....

 and anti-Marxist. His comments on the subject of 1960s radical University students, from a final episode of Civilisation, are but one example of his extremely critical view of Post Modernism in all its contemporary forms: "I can see them [the students] still through the University of the Sorbonne
The Sorbonne is an edifice of the Latin Quarter, in Paris, France, which has been the historical house of the former University of Paris...

, impatient to change the world, vivid in hope, although what precisely they hope for, or believe in, I don't know." - Clark, Civilisation, Episode 12.

Later life

He was Chancellor
Chancellor (education)
A chancellor or vice-chancellor is the chief executive of a university. Other titles are sometimes used, such as president or rector....

 of the University of York
University of York
The University of York , is an academic institution located in the city of York, England. Established in 1963, the campus university has expanded to more than thirty departments and centres, covering a wide range of subjects...

 from 1967 to 1978 and a trustee of the British Museum
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

. Clark was awarded a life peerage in 1969, taking the title Baron Clark, of Saltwood in the County of Kent (The British satirical magazine Private Eye nicknamed him Lord Clark of Civilisation).

In 1975 he supported the campaign to create a separate Turner Gallery for the Turner Bequest and in 1980 agreed to open a symposium on Turner at the University of York, of which he had been Chancellor, but illness compelled him to back out of that commitment, which Lord Harewood undertook in his place.

His wife Jane died in 1976 and the following year Lord Clark married Nolwen de Janzé-Rice, former wife of Edward Rice, and daughter of the Count of Janzé alias Comte Frederic de Janze (a well-known French racing driver of the 1920s and 1930s) by his wife Alice Silverthorne (better known by her married names as Alice de Janzé
Alice de Janzé
Alice de Janzé, née Silverthorne , also known as Alice de Trafford and holder of the noble title Comtesse de Janzé for a few years, was an American heiress who spent years in Kenya, as a member of the Happy Valley set of colonials...

 or Alice de Trafford), a wealthy American heiress resident in Kenya. Lord Clark died aged 79 in Hythe
Hythe, Kent
Hythe , is a small coastal market town on the edge of Romney Marsh, in the District of Shepway on the south coast of Kent. The word Hythe or Hithe is an Old English word meaning Haven or Landing Place....

 after a short illness in 1983. In the last days of his life, he was received into the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...



Clark's elder son, Alan Clark
Alan Clark
Alan Kenneth Mackenzie Clark was a British Conservative MP and diarist. He served as a junior minister in Margaret Thatcher's governments at the Departments of Employment, Trade, and Defence, and became a privy counsellor in 1991...

, became a prominent Conservative
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

 and was a writer-historian and celebrated diarist. Alan's younger brother Colin Clark
Colin Clark (filmmaker)
Colin Clark was a British writer and filmmaker who specialised in films for cinema and television about the arts...

 was a writer and filmmaker.

Styles and honours

  • Mr Kenneth Clark (1903–1938)
  • Sir Kenneth Clark KCB (1938–1946)
  • Prof. Sir Kenneth Clark KCB (1946–1949)
  • Prof. Sir Kenneth Clark KCB FBA (1949–1950)
  • Sir Kenneth Clark KCB FBA (1950–1959)
  • Sir Kenneth Clark CH KCB FBA (1959–1969)
  • The Rt. Hon. The Lord Clark CH KCB FBA (1969–1976)
  • The Rt. Hon. The Lord Clark OM CH KCB FBA (1976–1983)

Further reading

  • Meryle Secrest. Kenneth Clark: A Biography (1985)
  • Vital Vulgarity Clark's role in the founding of ITV (from the Transdiffusion group of TV history websites)
  • – for Clark's second marriage to Nolwen, and her maternal affiliation
  • – for Lady Clark's mother

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.