It would be encouraging to find that talented artists are always recognized and the best watercolor painters are always able to exhibit and sell their work. The sad reality is that a fluctuating economy, changing markets, and shifting tastes can work against the success of even the most gifted artists. Add personal misfortunate to the factors working against an artist, and it’s understandable how great painters fade into the dust of history.
Kate Freeman Clark (1875-1957) was one of those promising artists who ended her art career after personal and market challenges. In the 1890s, she was one of the best students in the classes William Merritt Chase taught at the Art Students League of New York and at his Shinnecock summer art school on Long Island, New York, and she described her years with Chase as her happiest and most productive of her life. Unfortunately, Chase’s death in 1916 and the loss of both her mother and grandmother around the same time convinced Clark to put her art supplies and paintings into storage. The crushing loss of those closest to her was exacerbated by a change in popular artistic tastes and the rise of Modern art. She returned to her Holly Springs home and lived the remainder of her life without painting. It wasn’t until her death at the age of 81 that her paintings were rediscovered. Clark left a fund for a gallery, the Kate Freeman Clark Art Gallery, to be established in Holly Springs, Mississippi, that would feature her 1,200 paintings.