Wark, Robert R. 1924-2007 (Bob Wark, R.R. Wark, Robert Rodger Wark)

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Wark, Robert R. 1924-2007 (Bob Wark, R.R. Wark, Robert Rodger Wark)


See index for CA sketch: Born October 7, 1924, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; died of complications from Alzheimer's disease, June 8, 2007, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Art historian, curator, educator, and author. Wark is remembered as the man who made the art collection of the Huntington Library what it is today. Early in his career he taught art history, first at Harvard, then at Yale University. After his first visit to the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California, he once commented, he knew that was where he wanted to spend the rest of his career. For nearly thirty-five years Wark devoted himself to the Huntington art collections, curating dozens—perhaps hundreds—of exhibitions, writing exhibition catalogs and books, expanding the collections, and eventually supervising the expansion of the library itself during the construction of the Virginia Steele Scott Gallery for American Art in the early 1980s. Though Wark himself was a renowned specialist in British art and a collector of the same, he was instrumental in building an eclectic collection at the Huntington, acquiring masterpieces of Dutch, Flemish, French, and Italian origin, as well as substantial American contributions. His devotees claim to feel his influence throughout the entire collection of fine art, sculpture, furniture, and metalwork. Wark remained at the Huntington from 1956 until retiring to his Canadian homeland in 1990. During most of those years he was also teaching classes concurrently at both the University of California in Los Angeles and the California Institute of Technology. His many writings include French Decorative Art in the Huntington Collection, Early British Drawings in the Huntington Collection, 1600-1750, Drawings by Thomas Rowlandson in the Huntington Collection, British Silver in the Huntington Collection, and The Revolution in Eighteenth-Century Art: Ten British Pictures, 1740-1840. In retirement, Wark occupied himself, along with his sister, in establishing the Peaceful Valley Day Use Lodge, a recreational lodge for the elderly and disabled, near his home in Edmonton.



Sutherland, Guilland, editor, British Art, 1740-1820: Essays in Honor of Robert R. Wark, Huntington Library (San Marino, CA), 1992.


Los Angeles, Times, June 12, 2007, p. B10.