Untitled (Self Portrait While Painting) by Huguette Clark.

Untitled (Self Portrait While Painting) by Huguette Clark. (Courtesy Bellosguardo Foundation)

The first exhibition of Huguette Clark’s artwork since 1931 is now on view at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, 136 E. De la Guerra St. The display is presented in collaboration with the Bellosguardo Foundation.

Never before publicly seen images from Clark’s recently rediscovered personal photo album are also displayed, giving glimpses of her at work in her art studio and from her private life at her Bellosguardo estate, along with ephemera from her scrapbooks.

Huguette Marcelle Clark: A Portrait of the Artist is on exhibit through June 12.

In an associated lecture at 5:30 p.m. March 16, author Bill Dedman will give a talk at the museum about the new information he has uncovered since “Empty Mansions,” his biography of Clark, was published in 2013. Admission is $20; $15 for museum members, reservations required. For reservations and more information, visit www.sbhistorical.org

Many have been captivated by the stories of copper heiress Huguette Clark (1906–2011) and Bellosguardo, her famed summer home in Santa Barbara, but few realize she was a talented artist.

Untitled (Portrait of Ballerina) by Huguette Clark.

Untitled (Portrait of Ballerina) by Huguette Clark. (Courtesy Bellosguardo Foundation)

As a younger woman Clark evidenced a wide-ranging interest in the arts as a painter, musician, and collector of beauty: decorative and fine art, costumes, exquisitely fashioned dolls, and fine jewels.

Trained by renowned portraitist Tadeusz (Tadé) Styka, she built a body of work throughout her long life. The exhibit presents self-portraits, portraits, a still life, and images of a Japanese geisha, a ballerina, and a Spanish dancer, among others. Styka’s portrait of Clark is also on view.

“We wanted to show the breadth of Huguette Clark’s talent,” said Dacia Harwood, director of the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. “She lived a fascinating life, and we’ve learned more about her time in our community while preparing this exhibition.”

Clark painted throughout her time in Santa Barbara, first at Meridian Studios on East De la Guerra Street (next to the Historical Museum) from 1933-35,while their home at Bellosguardo was being built; and then in her studio at the estate. The last time her works were publicly exhibited was in Paris in 1931.

As the residual beneficiary of Clark’s estate, the Bellosguardo Foundation received an extensive collection of her paintings. Several of the works selected (all oils) were conserved in anticipation of the exhibition. The foundation has also shared a selection of personal items from her photo albums and scrapbooks, which illustrate her life from her childhood and early life in Santa Barbara.

The 23-acre oceanfront estate Bellosguardo was redesigned and rebuilt after the 1925 earthquake by Anna Clark, widow of Sen. William Andrews Clark, and later owned by their daughter Huguette until her death at age 104.

She bequeathed the property to the Bellosguardo Foundation with the goal of transforming it into a focal point for art and culture in Santa Barbara and beyond. Visit www.bellosguardo.org.

Admission to the museum is free. Hours are currently noon-5 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays; and noon to 7 p.m. Thursdays. Visit www.sbhistorical.org.