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In the Spotlight

Claude Clark
Artist, Poet, Author, and Educator

Does the name Claude Clark ring a bell?


He's a Roxborough High School graduate that made it big in the art world and whose paintings can be seen in museums from our local Woodmere Art Museum to the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

Born in the South, Claude's family moved to Philadelphia in 1923 to escape poverty and the Ku Klux Klan. They settled in Manayunk to be close to relatives that lived in the area and became members of the Josie D. Heard A.M.E. Church.

Claude attended Roxborough High School and was the only black graduate in June 1935. While attending Roxborough High School, Claude spent Saturdays attending art classes in Center City. His talent was recognized by the school principal, who recommended him for a scholarship so that he could further his artistic talent.

Click newspaper image below
to open a larger version.

1944 Philadelphia Inquirer Clipping of Claude Clark in School Art Show


The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 30, 1944

RMWHS Celebrates Black History

Claude Clark

November 11, 1915 - April 21, 2001


"As a child in the churches, the schools
and the community, I dreamed of a destiny.
My search became a single purpose for the
dignity of Black Americans..."

- Claude Clark

Treasure Trove of Information
offers an exceptional collection of information on Claude Clark including downloadable PDFs that are a must-see for those wishing to learn about the artist.

It is well worth the visit.


Claude went on to attend the Philadelphia Museum School of Art and later pursued studies at The Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pennsylvania, where he met and became friends with Albert C. Barnes.

While there were relatively few celebrated black artists during the artist's early years, he reached out to renowned painter Horace Pippin, who became a friend until Pippin's passing in 1946.


“Freedom Morning” by Claude Clark was painted in 1944 by Claude Clark. It was painted in Philadelphia and commissioned by the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra.


Throughout his life, Claude mentored black artists and black causes. He became an outstanding art professor and educator, working toward advancing art education and recognition of black artists. Today his work is displayed in museums across the country and abroad as well as in the homes and the rich and famous.


The Roxborough Manayunk Wissahickon Historical Society holds a large repository of information about Claude Clark's life, including poems, short stories, family photos, and of course examples of his artwork. Many of these items were donated to the RMWHS by close friends of the artist. Clark never forgot his local roots and his works of art reflect that love.


"Resting" by Claude Clark at the
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Gift of the Harmon Foundation

This oil painting on canvas was created in 1944 and is in the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art collection in Washington DC.


You are invited to explore the links provided below to discover more about Claude Clark, his life, his talents, and his accomplishments.


If you would like to learn more about Claude Clark, visit the RMWHS Archive.


If you would like to view Claude Clark's artwork in person, plan a visit to the Woodmere Art Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Note: Always check with a museum before a visit to verify the works/artists you wish to see are on display and not out on loan or unavailable due to restoration, remodeling, or a visiting exhibit.


Want to see more from the comfort of your home? Explore examples of Claude Clark's artwork online right now!


RMWHS's In the Spotlight features local artists, inventors, writers, poets, scholars, activists, leaders, thinkers, and other individuals who have had an impact on history.

RMWHS has a long list of people we plan to feature, but we'd love to hear from you -- is there someone you'd like us to feature? If so, let us know.



RMWHS thanks our special contributor Donna Howley for helping us honor Claude Clark.

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