This article is about Kenneth Clark the art historian, not Kenneth Clarke the politician. There was also another Kenneth Clark famous for using dolls in research about children's attitudes about race.
He was educated at Winchester College and Trinity College, Oxford, where he studied the history of art. In 1927 he married a fellow Oxford student, Elizabeth Jane Martin. The couple had three children: Alan, in 1928, and twins Collete and Colin in 1932.
In 1933, aged only 31, Clark was appointed director of the National Gallery, the youngest person to ever hold the post. The following year he also became Surveyor of the King's Pictures, a post he held until 1945. He was a controversial figure however, in part due to his distaste for much of modern art. In 1946 he resigned his directorship in order to devote more time to writing. Between 1946 and 1950 he was Slade Professor of Fine Art at Oxford.
Already prominent in the art world, in 1966 he began writing and producing Civilisation for the BBC, a television series on the history of Western art that made him internationally famous when it was broadcast in 1969.
He was Chancellor of York University from 1969-79 and a trustee of the British Museum. Clark was awarded a life baronacy in 1969, taking the title Lord Clark of Saltwood. He also received the Order of Merit in 1976.
- "Opera, next to Gothic architecture, is one of the strangest inventions of Western man. It could not have been foreseen by any logical process."
- "People sometimes tell me that they prefer barbarism to civilization. I doubt if they have given it a long enough trial. Like the people of Alexandria, they are bored by civilisation; but all the evidence suggests that the boredom of barbarism is infinitely greater."
- "It is lack of confidence, more than anything else, that kills a civilisation. We can destroy ourselves by cynicism and disillusion, just as effectively as by bombs."
- The Gothic Revival (1928)
- Catalogue of the Windsor Leonardo Drawings (1935)
- Leonardo da Vinci (1939)
- Piero della Francesca (1951)
- Landscape into Art (1949)
- The Nude (1956)
- Rembrandt and the Italian Renaissance (1966)
- Civilisation (1969)
- Blake and Visionary Art (1973)
- Another Part of the Wood (1974)
- The Other Half (1977)
- The Romantic Rebellion (1986)