Arts + Culture

Clark family members make gifts to support library

Descendants of the namesake for UCLA's Clark Library donate family heirlooms purchased at auction of estate of notoriously reclusive relative

Clark Family Presentation
Reed Hutchinson/UCLA

Rodney Devine, pictured to the right of a portrait of his great-great grandfather William Andrews Clark, joins other descendants of the namesake for UCLA’s Clark Library in presenting family heirlooms to Barbara Fuchs, the library’s director, who is shown to the left of the portrait.

Twelve descendants of the namesake for UCLA’s William Andrews Clark Memorial Library gathered at the facility Wednesday to present several family heirlooms to the library.

Including a portrait of Clark, a one-term U.S. senator from Montana and copper magnate, and a black leather document carrier that belonged to him, the heirlooms hailed from the estate of the late, reclusive heiress Huguette Clark. She was the younger of the senator’s two daughters from his second marriage. The Clark Library was built by the second youngest of the senator’s six children from his first marriage.

"We are gratified that these historical artifacts, which carry so much meaning for the Clark family, can show our appreciation for the Library's important mission today," said Rodney Devine, a private investor in Essex, Connecticut, and a great-great-grandson of Sen. Clark.

The presentation on July 23 marked the first occasion that many of Clark’s descendants had visited the library.

The undated portrait is being loaned to the library on a long-term basis. Depicting a seated Clark toward the end of his life, the 50- by 40½-inch canvas was painted by the Polish-French artist Tadeusz Styka. A prominent portrait painter in the 1920s and 1930s, Styka was Huguette Clark’s art teacher and personal friend in New York City, said Andrew McVinish, head of  Private and Iconic Collections at Christie’s, the auction house that handled the sale of the itemsThe portrait was likely commissioned either by Huguette or her mother Anna, McVinish said. It’s not clear whether the portrait was painted from life or photograph, he added.

The Styka joins three other likenesses of the politician and entrepreneur on view at the Clark Library: two 1932 portraits by Portuguese artist Henrique Medina and a 1928 bronze bust by American sculptor Sally James Farnham.

Reed Hutchinson/UCLA
This leather document carrier and stationery belonged to William Andrews Clark when he served as a U.S. senator.

The document carrier, which is being permanently given to the library, is embossed in gold-colored letters with the words “W.A. Clark, U.S. Senator.” It comes with a German-made metal letter opener and a stack of vintage senate stationery, all apparently from Clark’s 1901-1907 senate term.

"No doubt my uncle would find it very fitting that his father's portfolio found its final destination here in this magnificent library that he dedicated to his father," said Karine McCall, a great-granddaughter of the senator, who splits her time between Manhattan and Santa Barbara.

On hand to receive the gifts were Barbara Fuchs, director of the Clark Library and the Center for 17th and 18th-Century Studies, which administers the library, UCLA College Humanities Dean David Schaberg and library staff.

"These items only strengthen our connection to the Clark family,” Fuchs said. “It is an honor to be able to showcase the family's important legacy to UCLA and to Los Angeles."

The items were purchased at a June 18 auction of the possessions of Huguette Clark, whose death in 2011, just two weeks before her 105th birthday, attracted considerable attention. A multi-millionaire, Clark had spent the last decades of her life hidden away in a private New York hospital room. Meanwhile, her three New York apartments overlooking Central Park remained uninhabited as did her mansion in Connecticut and a beach estate in Santa Barbara, California, said Rebecca Ann Fenning, archive and manuscript librarian at the Clark Library.

Some of the proceeds from her estate will help establish an arts foundation at the Santa Barbara estate, which is called Bellosguardo.

William A. Clark, Jr. built the library now owned and operated by UCLA as his own personal library and bequeathed it to the university upon his death in 1934. He completed construction shortly after his father’s death in 1925. A music lover and Los Angeles philanthropist, Clark, Jr. founded the Los Angeles Philharmonic and helped bankroll it for the first 16 years of its existence and helped fund the construction of the Hollywood Bowl.

The Clark Library is a beautiful, rare book library specializing in 17th- and 18th-century English history and literature, and holdings by and about the 19th-century dramatist, essayist, novelist and wit Oscar Wilde. A magnet for scholars, the library is also involved in outreach to the general public, including affordably priced chamber music concerts and theatrical productions.

You can examine the Clark family tree from the 2013 bestselling biography “Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune Paperback” by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr.

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