Frick Collection

Coordinates: 40°46′16″N 73°58′2″W / 40.77111°N 73.96722°W / 40.77111; -73.96722
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The Frick Collection
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EstablishedDecember 16, 1935; 88 years ago (1935-12-16)[1]
Location945 Madison Avenue
(ordinarily 1 East 70th Street)
Manhattan, New York City
Coordinates40°46′16″N 73°58′2″W / 40.77111°N 73.96722°W / 40.77111; -73.96722
TypeArt[2]
DirectorIan Wardropper
Public transit accessSubway: "6" train"6" express train​ at 68th Street–Hunter College
Bus: M1, M2, M3, M4, M66, M72, M98, M101, M102, M103
Websitewww.frick.org Edit this at Wikidata

The Frick Collection is an art museum on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York City. Established in 1935 to preserve the art collection of the industrialist Henry Clay Frick (1849–1919), the museum consists of European paintings from the 14th to the 19th centuries, as well as other works of European fine and decorative art. The museum is located at the Henry Clay Frick House, a Beaux-Arts mansion designed for Henry Clay Frick. The Frick also houses the Frick Art Reference Library, an art history research center established by Frick's daughter Helen Clay Frick in 1920, which contains sales catalogs, books, periodicals, and photographs.

The museum dates to 1920, when the trustees of Frick's estate formed the Frick Collection Inc. to care for his art collection, which he had bequeathed for public use. After Frick's wife Adelaide Frick died in 1931, John Russell Pope converted the Frick House into a museum, which opened on December 16, 1935. The museum acquired additional works of art over the years, and it expanded the house in 1977 to accommodate increasing visitation. Following fundraising campaigns in the 2000s, a further expansion was announced in the 2010s. The museum was temporarily relocated to 945 Madison Avenue from 2021 to 2024, during the renovation of the Frick House.

The Frick has about 1,500 pieces in its collection as of 2021. Artists with works in the collection have included Bellini, Fragonard, Goya, Holbein, Rembrandt, Titian, Turner, Velázquez, Vermeer, and Thomas Gainsborough. The museum has gradually acquired additional pieces over the years to supplement the paintings in Frick's original collection. In addition to its permanent collection, since 1972, the museum has sometimes hosted small temporary exhibitions on narrowly defined topics, as well as academic symposiums, concerts, classes, and concerts. The Frick Collection typically accommodates up to 300,000 annual visitors and has an endowment fund to support its programming. Commentary of the museum over the years has been largely positive, particularly with relation to the works themselves and their juxtaposition of the Frick House.

History[edit]

The industrialist Henry Clay Frick was born in 1849 and gained his wealth through the coke and steel industries.[3][4] As early as 1870, Frick was recorded as having an affinity for pictures, which were hung throughout his house in Broadford, Pennsylvania.[5] Frick acquired his first painting, Luis Jiménez's In the Louvre, in 1880,[6] after moving to Pittsburgh.[5] He did not begin buying paintings in large numbers until the mid-1890s,[7][8] and he began devoting significant amounts of time to his collection.[9] This made Frick one of several prominent American businessmen who also collected art, along with figures such as Henry Havemeyer and J. P. Morgan.[10] In explaining his reasoning for collecting art, Frick said, "I can make money... I cannot make pictures."[11] He curated his collection with the help of Joseph Duveen, 1st Baron Duveen,[12][13] who would later pick the architect and decorator for the Henry Clay Frick House at 1 East 70th Street in New York City.[12]

When the Frick family moved from Pittsburgh to New York City in 1905, they leased the William H. Vanderbilt House at 640 Fifth Avenue,[14][15] and Frick expanded his collection during that time.[16][17] The collection was spread across their homes in New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts.[18] Thomas Hastings of Carrère and Hastings designed Frick's permanent house at 1 East 70th Street,[19] which was completed in 1914.[20] The house itself was designed with the collection in mind.[21] James Howard Bridge, who was hired as Frick's curator in 1914, worked at the house for fourteen years.[22][23] Frick, who was known for being especially particular in his tastes,[24] spent an estimated $10 million to acquire pieces during his lifetime.[25]

Creation[edit]

Establishment of Frick Collection Inc.[edit]

The Henry Clay Frick House as seen from across Fifth Avenue
When Frick died in 1919, he bequeathed his house as a public museum for his art collection.

Frick died in 1919 at the age of 69, bequeathing the house as a public museum for his art collection.[3][26] His widow Adelaide Howard Childs Frick continued living in the mansion with her daughter Helen;[27] if Adelaide died or moved away, the house would be converted to a public museum.[28][29] At the time, the collection alone was worth $30 million,[30] and Frick also provided a $15 million endowment for the maintenance of the collection.[28] Nine people, including Adelaide, Helen, and Helen's brother Childs, were named as trustees of his estate;[31] Childs served as the head of the Frick estate's board of trustees until his death in 1965.[32] Per the terms of Frick's will, the trustees moved to incorporate Frick's art collection in April 1920, submitting articles of incorporation to the New York state government.[33] The Frick Collection Inc. was incorporated that month.[34]

The New York and Pennsylvania state governments fought over which government should collect taxes from Frick's estate.[35] Amid this dispute, the collection was reassessed at $13 million in 1921;[30] this figure was repeated in a revised appraisal of Frick's estate that was filed with the New York state government in 1923.[36] Meanwhile, Helen Frick studied plans for the Witt Library in London in the early 1920s, as she wanted to create a library for Frick's personal collection.[37] Helen catalogued most of the collection over the next decade.[31] The Frick Art Reference Library was organized at the mansion after Frick's death.[38] Carrère and Hastings filed plans for a dedicated library building adjacent to the original mansion in 1923,[39] and the library opened the next year.[40] During the 1920s, the library added thousands of volumes and photographs to its holdings.[22][41] Over the years, four additional trustees had to be appointed after their predecessors died.[27]

Opening of museum[edit]

Adelaide Frick's death in October 1931 triggered a clause in her husband's will, which gave the trustees permission to open the house and the art collection to the public.[42] The house was completely closed for the next two years while the family mourned.[43] After more than a year of planning, the Frick estate's trustees announced in January 1933 that the collection would likely open to the public within a year.[44][45] John Russell Pope was hired to alter and enlarge the house.[46] Frederick Mortimer Clapp, who had joined the Frick Collection as an advisor in 1931,[47] was hired as the museum's first director.[45][48] Work on the mansion began in December 1933.[49] A new library wing was constructed on 71st Street to replace the original library.[50] Other modifications included a new storage vault and renovations of the Frick family's living space.[51] The museum's opening, originally scheduled for 1934, was postponed because of the complexity of the construction project.[52] The Frick estate also sued the city government in 1935 to obtain a property-tax exemption for the museum,[53][54] and the taxes were waived the next year, as the Frick Collection was a public museum.[55]

View of the Frick Art Reference Library's interior
The Frick Art Reference Library reopened in 1935.

The rebuilt six-story library opened in January 1935;[56] at the time, it had 200,000 photographs, 18,000 catalogs of art sales, and 45,000 books.[57] The museum itself had a soft opening on December 11, 1935.[58] The preview was noteworthy enough that the names of 700 visitors were published in that day's New York Herald Tribune.[59] The Frick Collection officially opened to the public five days later on December 16.[1] When it opened, the museum did not charge admission fees,[27][60] but staff distributed timed-entry tickets to prevent crowding.[27][51] Although about 600 tickets were distributed daily to people who showed up in person,[61] other visitors had to make reservations several weeks in advance due to high demand.[27][51] Ropes were placed throughout the house to force visitors to follow a specific path.[27] The galleries were originally closed on holidays, Sundays, and for a month in the middle of the year.[61] Artworks were arranged based on how they blended in with the house's ambiance, rather than being arranged by year.[62]

1930s to 1960s[edit]

Within a year of the museum's opening, demand had declined enough that officials decided to scale down, and then eliminate, its timed-entry ticketing system.[63] The ropes throughout the house were taken down, and visitors were allowed to visit the Frick House's rooms in any order.[64][65] Museum officials also presented lectures five days a week during the late 1930s,[63][64] and they started hosting afternoon concert series in November 1938;[65][66] these concerts and lectures continued throughout Clapp's tenure at the museum.[47] Clapp also obtained fresh flowers each day and placed them in the first-floor galleries for esthetic purposes.[47] Three magnolia trees were planted on the grounds in 1939.[67] To expand their land holdings, museum officials bought the six-story townhouse at 9 East 70th Street in 1940[68] and used that building as storage space.[69]

Museum officials filed plans for a concrete vault under the Frick House in March 1941[70][71] to protect the artwork from air raids during World War II.[72] During the war, the museum continued to host visitors, but some rooms were closed,[73] and more than five dozen paintings and all of the sculptures were moved into storage.[74] Museum officials took these pieces out of storage in May 1945 and restored them; other artworks in the house were rearranged and cleaned as well.[75] The Frick acquired the adjacent seven-story townhouse at 7 East 70th Street in 1947[76] and subsequently replaced it with a service wing.[69] By the late 1940s, the museum had cumulatively spent about $2.9 million in acquisitions since Frick's death.[77]

When John D. Rockefeller Jr. offered to donate several pieces of artwork in 1948, Helen Frick objected, arguing that the museum only accepted gifts from Frick family members.[78] In the lawsuit that followed, a New York Supreme Court judge ruled that the terms of Frick's will did not prevent the museum from accepting external gifts;[79] the court's Appellate Division upheld this ruling.[80] Rockefeller, who had been on the board of trustees, resigned amid the dispute.[81] Clapp resigned in 1951 and was replaced by the museum's assistant director Franklin M. Biebel, who became the Frick's second director.[82] Biebel established a decorative-arts conservation program, and the number of annual visitors nearly doubled under his tenure.[83] The museum's collection remained largely unchanged over the next several years, as Helen Frick opposed any expansions, saying that her father would not have wanted items to be added.[84] Helen continued to serve on the museum's board of trustees until 1961, when the board finally voted to accept Rockefeller's gift, prompting her to resign.[85]

Assistant director Harry D. M. Grier replaced Biebel, becoming the museum's third director in 1964.[86] By the mid-1960s, the Frick had 160 portraits, 80 sculptures, and various other items in its collection;[87] the Frick was open five days a week and was still free to enter.[62] The collection was small compared to that of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which at the time had 365,000 items.[87] Edgar Munhall was hired as the museum's first chief curator in 1965, a position he would hold for thirty-five years.[88] As part of a master plan in 1967,[89] the Frick's trustees drew up plans for annex at 7 and 9 East 70th Street, designed in the same style as the Frick House. At the time, the house at 5 East 70th Street was still standing, so the annex would have been physically separated from the Frick House itself.[90]

1970s to 1990s[edit]

Entrance to the Frick Collection

By the early 1970s, the museum recorded about 800 daily visitors and employed 75 staff members.[91] The next year, the museum began asking visitors to pay an optional admission fee due to rising taxes and expenses.[92] After Grier was killed in a traffic accident in 1972,[93] Everett Fahy was appointed as the museum's fourth director in 1973.[94] The museum announced plans to construct an annex at 5–9 East 70th Street,[69] which would have included offices, lab space, lecture halls, and an auditorium.[95] After the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) expressed concerns over the fact that the expansion would require the demolition of the Widener House at 5 East 70th Street,[96] the museum announced a plan for a "temporary garden" on the 70th Street lots, which the LPC approved.[97] The original annex was canceled that November,[95] and Frick officials subsequently decided to build a one-story wing on the Widener House's site.[98] The annex had been proposed because, at the time, the mansion could accommodate only 250 people at once, while the museum saw up to 1,500 daily visitors.[99]

Under Fahy's tenure, the museum began hosting more temporary exhibits, which it had seldom held before Fahy took over.[100] The Frick began charging admission for the first time in 1976.[101] The annex was completed the next year, along with a garden,[99][101] designed by British landscape architect Russell Page.[102] The Frick renovated the Boucher Room and cleaned and rearranged its paintings during the following decade.[103] By the mid-1980s, the museum displayed 169 works of art,[104][105] and the galleries occupied 16 rooms.[104] The museum periodically hosted chamber music performances in the Frick House's courtyard.[106] It was relatively low-profile compared to others in New York City, only sporadically expanding its collection and hosting small temporary exhibitions.[107] After Helen Frick died in 1984, the museum took over responsibility for the Frick Art Reference Library;[107] initially, the library had no endowment as Helen had not provided anything for the library in her will.[108] Ceiling lights were installed in the Fragonard and Boucher rooms in the 1980s.[109]

Charles Ryskamp, the former director of the Pierpont Morgan Library, was appointed as the Frick's fifth director in December 1986 after Fahy's resignation,[110] though he did not assume that position for another six months.[107] Under Ryskamp's directorship, some of the paintings were rearranged or brought out of storage.[111] and a $25 million endowment for the library had been raised by 1993.[108] Through the 1990s, the Frick banned all children under the age of 10, as well as unaccompanied minors between ages 10 and 15,[112][113] and the museum also did not have a cafe.[114] The New York City government passed a law banning public institutions from discriminating by age in 1993, which would have forced the museum to start accepting children.[112][115] Museum officials requested a waiver, saying that they would have to install barriers if children were allowed,[112][113] and they received such a waiver in 1995.[116] In addition, further lighting upgrades were made in the mid-1990s.[109]

Ryskamp announced his retirement in 1997.[117] After Samuel Sachs II was named as the museum's sixth director that May,[117][118] the trustees tasked him with raising funds.[119] Under Sachs's directorship, the museum launched a website in the 1990s,[120] as well as replaced the lighting and hosted additional special exhibitions.[121] He also contemplated expanding the exhibition space, adding a cafe, and relocating the entrance to the house's garden.[120] In addition, the museum began providing complimentary audio guides for the mansion and artworks,[29][122] and museum officials began allowing parties to be hosted in the Frick House.[123] A group named Friends of the Fellows of the Frick Collection was formed to raise interest in the museum.[124]

2000s and 2010s[edit]

Colin Bailey was appointed as chief curator in 2000 after Munhall resigned.[125] During the late 1990s, the Helen Clay Frick Foundation proposed moving its archives in Pittsburgh to the Frick Collection's archives, prompting an intra-family debate over whether the collections should be merged.[126] The foundation's collection ultimately was split between the two cities in 2001, and most of the objects were sent to New York City.[127] After attendance dropped following the September 11 attacks that year, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation provided $270,000, in part to fund extended hours on Fridays.[128] Sachs announced in January 2003 that he would resign as the museum's director in eight months,[129] as the board of trustees had not renewed his contract.[119] At the time of Sachs's resignation, the museum recorded 350,000 annual visitors, 20 percent more than in 1997,[129] but it was running at a $1 million annual deficit.[130] Annexes to the museum were proposed in 2001, 2005, and 2008,[131] but all of these plans were canceled because it would have required an extended closure of the museum and still would not have provided sufficient space.[132]

The art scholar Anne L. Poulet was hired in August 2003 as the Frick's first female director,[133] and the museum was reorganized as a tax-exempt public charity shortly after Poulet became the director.[130] Under Poulet's tenure, she replaced lighting in several galleries[130][134] and rearranged some of the pieces.[130] She also raised $55 million for renovations;[134] the museum's facilities had become dated, and the basement exhibition space was no longer sufficient.[130] Because of the Frick's classification as a charity, the museum had to raise a third of its budget from donations.[119] The Frick created programs to attract major donors and art collectors.[119][134] and it began charging admission fees for concerts in 2005.[135][136] During the 2000s decade, the Frick did not acquire many additional items.[134] In contrast to larger museums, it generally hosted small, detailed exhibits,[134] though the number of short-term exhibitions at the Frick increased during the decade.[137] Further restorations of the museum's galleries took place through the late 2000s to attract visitors.[138]

The Frick Collection's garden on 70th Street
A plan to expand the museum in 2014 failed because of opposition to demolishing the 70th Street garden (pictured).

Poulet announced her retirement in September 2010,[139] and Ian Wardropper was hired as the museum's director in 2011.[140] A sculpture gallery, designed by Davis Brody Bond, opened at the Frick House in December 2011, becoming the first new gallery at the museum in three decades.[141][142] Bailey resigned as the chief curator in 2013,[143] and Xavier F. Salomon was hired as the chief curator the same year.[144] During the 2010s, the Frick began raising $290 million for its renovation.[145][146] The collection had reached more than 1,100 works by the mid-2010s.[147][131][132][a] In addition, the museum was hosting an average of five temporary exhibits per year.[132] The Frick House's facilities were not adequate for the museum's modern needs. For example, paintings had to be carried into the museum through the house's front door, and portraits had to be placed in storage whenever the Frick hosted a visiting show.[89] The concerts at the museum sometimes sold out as well.[132]

In 2014, the museum announced plans for a six-story annex on 70th Street designed by Davis Brody Bond,[131][147] which would contain offices and other administrative spaces.[131][148] Russell Page's garden on 70th Street would have been demolished to make way for the annex; this prompted opposition from residents and preservationists.[149][150] The Frick announced in June 2015 that it would draw up new designs for the renovation.[151] To attract younger visitors, the museum began hosting free events in the mid-2010s,[152] such as First Fridays.[153] The Frick hired Annabelle Selldorf to design a revised expansion plan for the museum, which was announced in April 2018;[154][155] the LPC approved Selldorf's plans that June.[156] The Frick then sought to relocate to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum temporarily, but the Guggenheim was available for only four months.[157] By September 2018, the Frick was negotiating to take over the Whitney Museum's space at 945 Madison Avenue;[158] the Frick finalized a two-year lease for that building in 2020.[159]

2020s to present[edit]

The facade of the Frick Madison at 945 Madison Avenue
The Frick moved to 945 Madison Avenue between 2021 and 2024.

The Frick closed in mid-March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City;[160][161] the opening of the temporary location was delayed due to the pandemic.[162][161] The museum's collection was moved to 945 Madison Avenue, which reopened as the Frick Madison in March 2021.[163] The Frick Madison housed the museum's old masters collection, including 104 paintings, along with sculptures, vases, and clocks.[157] Most of the 1,500-piece collection of artwork was placed in storage in the Breuer Building,[164] and about 300 works were placed on display.[164][165] At the Frick Madison, the artwork was exhibited against stark dark gray walls, in contrast to the Frick House's ornate decoration;[164][157] the paintings were also grouped according to their age and region of origin.[166][167][168]

The museum had raised $242 million for its capital campaign by the end of 2023.[145][146] Wardropper announced in January 2024 that he would resign the following year, after the Frick House's renovation was complete.[146][169] That month, the museum received permission for 14 liquor licenses at the Frick House, which would allow the museum to serve alcohol at special events.[170] The Frick Madison was scheduled to close on March 3, 2024,[171][172] and the Henry Clay Frick House is scheduled to reopen in late 2024.[171]

Collection[edit]

The Frick has a collection of old master paintings and furniture housed in 19 galleries of varying size within the former residence.[120] Frick's collection initially consisted of salon pieces and works by Barbizon School artists,[25][173] and he bought 90 paintings between 1895 and 1900 alone.[8] He had begun to acquire other types of paintings by the end of the 19th century,[25][173] and his acquisitions during the 1900s were increasingly composed of Old Master artworks.[24][174] Toward the end of Frick's life, he also focused on porcelains, sculptures, and furniture.[175] Frick ultimately acquired a variety of European paintings,[31][176] Renaissance bronzes,[45] French clocks,[177] and a set of porcelains.[176] The paintings ranged from the 14th to 19th centuries,[178] and many of the paintings depicted women.[59] There were some chronological gaps in the original collection: for example, there were no 17th-century French paintings when the museum opened, even as the museum had both older and newer French paintings.[179]

When Frick died, he was variously cited as having collected 103,[176] 137,[180] "about 140",[25] or 250 paintings during his life.[18] Including other objects, the original collection contained 635 pieces of art or decorations.[147] Some of the original paintings in Frick's personal collection were discovered to be forgeries after his death,[181] while other paintings were found to be misattributed.[182] When the museum opened, it contained about 200 paintings in addition to porcelains, enamels, and bronzes;[51] there were also 80 sculptures.[61]

Helen Clay Frick and the board of trustees expanded the collection after his death; in 2006, the New York Times estimated that about 30 percent of the collection had been acquired after Frick died.[119] Nonetheless, until 1948, the museum accepted donations of art only from Frick family members.[77] The museum can lend works acquired after Frick's death, but not works that he owned in his lifetime;[120][183][184] this restriction has prevented works from appearing in other museums' exhibitions.[185] The Frick is also prohibited from selling items in its collection and seldom acquires new works. Some of the works are normally not visible to the public but can be displayed as necessary.[186] The Frick has sometimes borrowed paintings for long periods, including a portrait of Cosimo de' Medici that was displayed in the museum from 1970 to 1989.[187] Purchases of new art were funded by the museum's endowment until 2016, when the museum's trustees established an acquisitions fund.[188]

As of 2021, the museum has 1,500 pieces in its collection, including both paintings and other objects;[164] it normally displays 470 objects.[165] Prior to the museum's 2021 renovation, the artwork was displayed in 15 galleries.[189]

Visual arts collection[edit]

The museum features works from artists including:

Several artists, including Holbein, Vermeer, Rembrandt, Turner, Gainsborough, Van Dyck, Fragonard, and Boucher, each painted at least two of the collection's pieces.[178] Included in the modern collection are Fragonard's The Progress of Love,[201] three paintings by Johannes Vermeer including Mistress and Maid, two paintings by Jacob van Ruisdael including Quay at Amsterdam,[229] El Greco's Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple,[230] Titian's Portrait of a Man in a Red Cap,[231][230] one of Rembrandt's self-portraits,[105][232] Rembrandt's The Polish Rider,[232] and Piero della Francesca's St. John the Evangelist.[12][233]

Notable acquisitions[edit]

Notable objects in Frick's original collection included Vermeer's Girl Interrupted at Her Music,[174] a Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington,[25][176] Velázquez's Portrait of Philip IV in Fraga,[193][176] eight panels by Boucher,[234] and 14 panels by Fragonard.[9][235] In the fifty years after Frick died, thirty objects were added to the original collection.[91] After Frick's death but before the opening of the current museum, the Frick estate's trustees bought the Portrait of Comtesse d'Haussonville by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres,[236] as well as a painting by Duccio and the Coronation of the Virgin by Paolo Veneziano.[22] The Giuseppe Bastiani painting Adoration of Magi was acquired in 1935.[7]

Shortly after the museum opened, it acquired items such as a Renaissance-era panel by della Francesca,[237] a portrait that François Boucher painted of his wife,[238] Jacques-Louis David's painting of a French noblewoman,[64][239] and a Paul Cézanne landscape.[240] This was followed in the 1950s by three Italian Renaissance paintings,[241] David's portrait of Antonio Bartolomeo Bruni,[242] and Jan van Eyck's Virgin and Child, with Saints and Donor.[243] The collection had only one 17th-century French work until the 1960s, when the museum obtained Claude Lorrain's painting of the Sermon on the Mount;[244] the museum also obtained della Francesca's Crucifixion during that decade.[85] The Frick did not acquire anything between c. 1968 and 1991, when the museum obtained its first Jean-Antoine Watteau painting, Portal of Valenciennes.[245] The museum's other acquisitions in the 1990s and 2000s included one of Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot's oil sketches,[246] two of Jean-Baptiste Greuze's portraits,[247] and Gabriel de Saint-Aubin's The Private Academy.[248]

After former director Ryskamp died in 2010, he bequeathed some of his collection to the Frick.[249] The museum's other acquisitions in the 2010s included a self-portrait by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo that had been owned by Henry Clay Frick's grandson.[250] In 2023, the Frick obtained Giovanni Battista Moroni's painting Portrait of a Lady, the first Renaissance-era painting of a woman in the Frick's collection.[251]


Selected works[edit]

Other objects[edit]

The modern-day museum's collection also includes numerous works of sculpture and porcelain.[29][2] It has 18th-century French furniture, Limoges enamel, and Oriental rugs.[87][106][29] Among the objects owned by the museum are 18th-century tapestries that belonged to Louis XV and Louis XVI of France.[274] Frick had acquired some of these decorative objects from the J. P. Morgan estate specifically to complement the works of visual art in his collection.[59]

The sculpture collection includes a bust of Henry Clay Frick by Malvina Hoffman, which was gifted when the museum opened in 1935.[275] Other acquisitions of sculpture in the mid-20th century included a Diana bust by Jean-Antoine Houdon,[276] a 15th-century bronze figure of an angel,[74] and a pair of 15th-century Italian marble busts.[85] In the 1990s and 2000s, the Frick received Winthrop Edey's collection of timekeeping pieces,[277] a 19th-century terracotta bust by Joseph Chinard,[278] a marble bust by Houdon;[277] a bust by Massimiliano Soldani Benzi,[279] and a clock.[277][134] Acquisitions since the 2010s have included 131 Meissen porcelains,[280] as well as 28 objects from collector Alexis Gregory (including rare clocks and enamels).[281]

Programming and events[edit]

Temporary exhibits[edit]

The Frick Collection has historically hosted temporary exhibitions less frequently than similar museums.[100][134] It initially focused almost exclusively on its permanent collection,[282] with one temporary exhibit a year during the 1960s.[132] Since 1972, the Frick has sometimes hosted small exhibitions on narrowly defined topics;[282] in some cases, exhibitions have consisted of a single painting.[121] By the 2010s, the museum hosted five exhibits a year on average,[132] and exhibitions were scheduled several years in advance.[283]

Late 20th century[edit]

Temporary exhibitions in the 1970s included an exhibit in honor of the museum's late director Harry D. M. Grier,[284] bronzes by Severo Calzetta da Ravenna,[285] and drawings by Fragonard.[100] Topics of temporary exhibitions during the 1980s included busts by Houdon,[286] French clocks,[177] terracotta sculptures by Clodion,[282] drawings by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres,[287] Henry Clay Frick's earliest acquisitions,[288] and Old Master paintings.[289]

Especially in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the museum has hosted temporary exhibitions about singular artworks or artists.[184] Among the items exhibited in the 1990s were works by French painter Nicolas Lancret,[290] watercolors from the Rijksmuseum,[291] eighteenth- and nineteenth-century drawings from the Stanford Museum,[292] a single Claude Monet painting,[121] drawings by German artists,[293] and drawings by French artists.[294] In 1999, several items in the permanent collection were taken out of storage specifically to complement an exhibition of Ingres's Portrait of Comtesse d'Haussonville.[295]

21st century[edit]

In the early 2000s, the topics of the Frick's exhibitions included drawings in the collection of the Albertina museum,[296] paintings from John Hay Whitney's collection,[297] El Greco paintings,[298] antique clocks,[299] pieces from the Toledo Museum of Art's collection,[300] a set of Parmigianino paintings,[301] and three consecutive exhibits of antique bronzes.[302] Later in the decade, the temporary exhibitions included portraits by Hans Memling,[303] paintings by Paolo Veronese,[304] a show of French art,[305] the Frick's first Meissen porcelain show,[306] pieces from the Norton Simon Museum's collection,[307] and a single painting by Parmigianino.[308] The Frick hosted various exhibits in honor of its 75th anniversary in 2010,[309] including an exhibition on its own founding.[24] Other early-2010s exhibits included works from the Dulwich Picture Gallery,[184] works from the Courtauld Gallery,[310] Picasso drawings,[311] Renoir paintings,[312] Piero della Francesca panels,[313] and a historical overview of St. Francis in the Desert.[314]

After some works from the Mauritshuis in The Hague were displayed at the Frick in 2013,[315] the Frick displayed several paintings at the Mauritshuis in 2015,[316] marking the first time that the Frick lent paintings to a European museum.[317] During the mid- and late 2010s, the subjects of the Frick's exhibits included paintings from the Scottish National Gallery's collection,[318] paintings from the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo in Florence,[319] works by Andrea del Sarto,[320] objects by Pierre Gouthière,[321] and canvases by J. M. W. Turner.[322] When the Frick moved to 945 Madison Avenue in the early 2020s, its exhibits included a showcase of Barkley Hendricks paintings (the museum's first exhibit of a black artist's art)[323] and a pair of paintings by Giovanni Bellini and Giorgio da Castelfranco.[324]

Other programs[edit]

The museum hosts special events,[325] such as academic symposiums, concerts, classes, and concerts.[189] The educational programs are led by Rika Burnham, who became head of the museum's education department in 2008.[326] The Frick's educational programs include online visits for students at secondary schools and postsecondary institutions,[327] as well as courses where a single piece is discussed at length.[328] The Frick also has partnerships with local educational partnerships such as the Ghetto Film School.[329] Docents began hosting lectures in galleries in 2010,[59] and the museum launched a mobile app in 2014, allowing visitors to bookmark artworks in the museum's collection.[330]

Every year since 2000, the Frick hosts the Young Fellows Ball, a springtime gala for philanthropists who are largely under age 40.[331] The museum also started hosting an annual Garden Party in 2008;[332][333] the event, which began as a members-only gathering, evolved into an annual fundraiser.[333] In 2016, the Frick introduced First Fridays, in which patrons could visit the museum for free on the first Friday of every month.[153][334] First Fridays include gallery talks and activities for visitors.[153]

The Concerts from the Frick Collection series was launched in 1938[65][335] and has continued through the 20th and 21st centuries.[336][337] Musicians who have performed at the Frick Collection have included Ian Bostridge, Matthias Goerne, Guarneri String Quartet, Wanda Landowska, Gregor Piatigorsky, Artur Schnabel, and Kiri Te Kanawa.[135][335] The concerts were broadcast on radio starting in 1939, first on the Municipal Broadcasting System, then on American Public Radio and WNYC.[337] Although visitors originally could listen to the concerts free of charge (even after the museum started charging an admission fee), a separate admission charge for concerts was instituted in 2005.[135][136] Prior to the 2020s renovation, the concerts were hosted in the Frick House's music room.[338]

Publications[edit]

The collection is detailed in books such as Masterpieces of the Frick Collection, first published in 1970,[339] and Art in the Frick Collection, first published in 1996.[340] The history of the collection was also detailed in Henry Clay Frick: An Intimate Portrait, a biography of Frick written by his great-granddaughter Martha Frick Symington Sanger in 1998.[7][12][122] Sanger's subsequent book The Henry Clay Frick House: Architecture-Interiors—Landscapes in the Golden Era, published in 2001, described the Frick House and its collection in detail.[341] In 2011, the Frick and the BNP Paribas Foundation published a guidebook on the collection, its history, and the Frick House.[342] The Frick launched its Diptych series in 2017; the series consists of short books with essays that relate to paintings from the museum's collection.[343]

Building[edit]

The Frick House, which contains the collection

The museum is ordinarily located at the Henry Clay Frick House at 1 East 70th Street,[46][344] which is part of Fifth Avenue's Museum Mile.[345] The house spans an entire blockfront on Fifth Avenue between 70th and 71st Streets[346] The original structure from 1914 was designed by Thomas Hastings[19] in the Beaux-Arts style.[347] The same style is also used for the 1970s reception wing,[347] designed by Harry Van Dyke, John Barrington Bayley, and G. Frederick Poehler.[99] Both structures have a facade of Indiana Limestone.[348] The house has a lawn that is mostly closed to the public.[349]

Inside the house are the museum's galleries (adapted from the old living spaces of the mansion), as well as a courtyard with reflecting pool,[350][348] the latter of which is based on a Roman atrium.[351] Some parts of the house have been modified over the years specifically to accommodate the museum, including a room that was built specifically to display the Fragonard panels.[352] Some of the rooms, such as the Boucher Room and the Enamel Room, are named based on the pieces that they display.[178] In addition to the artwork and artifacts on display, there are bookcases placed throughout the Frick House's rooms,[350] and some rooms have various other pieces of furniture such as a dining table.[178]

Frick Art Reference Library[edit]

The Frick Collection oversees the Frick Art Reference Library,[353] which was established in 1920 and opened to researchers in June 1924.[40] The library is housed at a 13-story building at 10 East 71st Street (next to the original mansion).[40][147][354] Prior to the library building's opening, the basement bowling alley was used as storage space for the library's collection.[18][355][354] The library has always been open to the public, except during World War II, when it was closed for six months,[354] and during the COVID-19 pandemic and 2020 renovation, when it was shuttered while being moved to the Frick Madison.[161] The library is typically open free of charge to "any adult with a serious interest in art".[355] In the late 20th century, the library served 6,000 people a year on average, most of whom made advance reservations or requests.[356]

Helen Frick acted as director for six decades, during which time its collection expanded to include 50,000 sales catalogs, 400,000 photographs, and 150,000 books.[357] By the 1990s, the library had an estimated 235,000 volumes,[356] which grew to 280,000 by the late 2000s.[18] The collections of the library focus on art of the Western tradition from the fourth century to the mid-twentieth century, and chiefly include information about paintings, drawings, sculpture, prints, and illuminated manuscripts. Archival materials supplement its research collections.[358] The Frick Art Reference Library Photoarchive contains over a million photocopies of artwork, including objects that are not in the museum's collection.[354][359]

The Frick has been part of the New York Art Resources Consortium (NYARC), which also includes the Museum of Modern Art and Brooklyn Museum, since 2007.[360] NYARC operates Arcade, an online catalog that combines the collections of the three museums' libraries.[360][361] The Center for the History of Collecting, also founded in 2007,[362] is also part of the library.[363] The Frick is a member of the International Consortium of Photo Archives (PHAROS), which operates a database of digitized artworks from the collections of 14 art museums.[359]

Management[edit]

The Frick Collection is operated by a nonprofit organization of the same name, which is dedicated to conserving the artworks in the museum's collection.[364] As of 2024, Ian Wardropper is the Frick's director, while Xavier F. Salomon is the chief curator.[365] The director's position has been known as the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Director since 2020,[366] while the chief curator's position is known as the Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator.[367]

The museum's board of trustees originally comprised nine trustees[31] and was largely composed of Frick family members.[134] The board was relatively small during the 20th century, with nine trustees until the 1990s[120] and eleven by 2003.[325] Under Poulet's directorship, in the 2000s, the board was expanded by 10 members[139] and was broadened to include more people from outside the Frick family.[119][134] Poulet also introduced the Director's Circle, a group of 44 members who each give a minimum of $25,000 a year to the Frick Collection.[134][139]

Admission and attendance[edit]

After the museum opened in 1935, it accommodated 5,000 visitors in its first week[60] and 100,000 visitors in six months; at its peak, the museum saw 1,600 visitors in one day.[368] At the end of 1936, the museum had seen 136,000 visitors, an average of 460 per day.[63] The number of annual visitors had increased to 250,000 by the late 1990s,[118] and annual attendance averaged 350,000 by the early 2000s.[129] According to The Art Newspaper, the Frick Collection had a typical annual attendance of 275,000 to 300,000 in the 2010s,[369] although during 2013, it recorded 420,000 visitors.[370] Shows in the 2010s attracted upwards of 4,000 daily visitors.[89]

The Frick was originally free to enter but has charged an admission fee since 1976.[101] The museum offers pay-as-you-wish hours one day of the week, in addition to free admission on First Fridays.[371] Free admission is also provided to members of the Frick; students and staff of certain universities in New York City; certain demographic groups such as youth, senior citizens, and people with disabilities; and other groups such as military personnel.[372] As part of the Culture Pass program, persons with cards from New York City's public libraries[b] could also visit the museum for free with a Culture Pass,[373] albeit with restrictions on the number of passes distributed.[374]

Children under the age of 10 are not allowed inside the museum;[116][189] this restriction, intended to protect the paintings has existed ever since the museum opened in 1935.[112][113] The museum provides guided tours to small groups and school classes.[189] Since the late 1990s, the museum has provided complementary audio guides to visitors.[29][122] The guides are offered in several languages[375] and consist of handsets that provide information about the artworks and the subjects of each painting.[376] The Frick also launched its website in the late 1990s;[120] the website has been updated several times since then.[377]

Funding[edit]

Frick's will established a $15 million endowment fund for what would become the Frick Collection museum.[28] At the Frick Collection Inc.'s 50th anniversary in 1970, the museum's endowment had grown to $40 million, and it received more than $1 million a year in income.[92] By 1997, the Frick Collection had an operating budget of $10 million and an endowment of $170 million;[117][118] the museum had a budget of $18.8 million and an endowment of $200 million within a decade.[135]

Reception and commentary[edit]

20th-century commentary[edit]

When the Frick Collection opened to the public in 1935, a critic for The New York Times wrote that the museum's "informality in the distribution of works of art has even its amusing overtones",[378] while another commentator in The Christian Science Monitor regarded the collection as having "long been recognized as one of the world's treasuries of art".[61] One of the few detractors was Lewis Mumford, who felt that the other objects in the house diverted visitors' attention from the visual art.[59] A Los Angeles Times critic wrote in 1941 that few other art collections in the U.S. "so completely [exemplified] a great period in American art collecting".[379] The New York Times wrote in 1969 that the Frick was one of the world's best "residence-museums" along with the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Wallace Collection.[47] A critic for the Christian Science Monitor said in 1971 that the collection's paintings seemed to fit the building because Frick had "to be sure he felt at home with them".[6] Another critic, writing for The Post-Standard of Syracuse, New York, in 1975, praised the museum's "tranquility and superb decorative arts coupled with masterworks".[380]

John Russell of the Times said in 1981 that "The Frick is loved for its unpushy ways, for the largesse of its hospitality and for the high quality of what it has to show."[103] In a review for the Christian Science Monitor the same year, Madeline Lee wrote that the museum was special because of its courtyard and reflecting pool;[381] another reviewer for the same newspaper said "The Frick is the only museum I know whose collection consists almost exclusively of great or nearly great art."[230] GQ magazine said that "the most renowned—and probably best—combined house and art collection of a so-called 'robber baron' is that of Henry Clay Frick".[382] Bryan Miller of the Times wrote in 1987 that there were "artistic gems in every room",[383] and Grace Glueck of the same paper called it "the enclave of masterpieces".[178] A Los Angeles Times critic in 1990 said the Frick Collection "represents the aristocratic aspirations of turn-of-the-century robber barons".[384] Another New York Times critic called the museum "as frumpy and elegant as a dowager queen", describing the quality of its collection and the Frick House.[385] A Globe and Mail reviewer said the museum was extremely peaceful and was "a more comfortable museum than most" because it used to serve as a residence.[386]

21st-century commentary[edit]

A 2000 poll by Travel Holiday magazine ranked the Frick Collection as the third-best art museum in the U.S.[387] Upon the museum's 75th anniversary in 2010, a Wall Street Journal critic wrote that, although the museum lacked major shows and had not undergone a high-profile renovation, it "quietly attracts a steady stream of about 300,000 visitors each year who come to see one of the most extraordinary assemblages of fine and decorative arts in the world".[134] A reviewer for the Condé Nast Traveler wrote that the museum was "exactly the right scale, everything in the collection is worth seeing, and can be viewed in an hour or less",[189] while a New Yorker writer said that "you feel more than welcomed—you feel invited, like a family friend" at the Frick House.[388] A critic for the Daily Telegraph wrote in 2014 that the Frick was "the best small museum in New York, perfect if you don't fancy dealing with a crush of people at MoMA or the Met".[389]

When the museum was temporarily relocated to 945 Madison Avenue, one critic wrote that the temporary building was "an exercise in contrasts" with the Frick House's decorations and that "the vibe here is serious and meditative".[166] Another critic wrote for Vogue that the Frick Madison was a "shock to the senses in every way" but that "the collection comes directly to the fore" amid that building's bare walls.[390] Writers for the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal similarly said that the spartan setting helped highlight the collection itself.[168][391]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ A New York Times article from 2014 described the collection as having 1,200 works,[131] while a Wall Street Journal article from the same year gives a figure of 1,115 works.[132]
  2. ^ The Brooklyn Public Library, Queens Library, and New York Public Library[373]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Frick Art Museum Opened to Public; 750 View Superb Collection in Former Home of Donor – Same Number to See It Daily". The New York Times. December 17, 1935. Archived from the original on January 29, 2024. Retrieved January 29, 2024; "Frick Museum Opens to Public As 700 See Art: Director Calls First Day a Success; Lecture Tour Is Planned for Visitors". New York Herald Tribune. December 17, 1935. p. 21. ISSN 1941-0646. ProQuest 1242909040.
  2. ^ a b "The Frick Collection: About". ARTINFO. 2008. Archived from the original on October 5, 2008. Retrieved April 29, 2022.
  3. ^ a b "Henry C. Frick Dies; Leaves Art to City; Pioneer in Steel and Coke Industry Stricken Suddenlyby Heart Attack". The New York Times. December 3, 1919. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on January 29, 2024. Retrieved January 29, 2024.
  4. ^ Bailey 2006, p. 10.
  5. ^ a b Bailey 2006, pp. 10–11.
  6. ^ a b Chapin, Louis (July 29, 1971). "Museum Treasure Hunt: the Frick Collection". The Christian Science Monitor. p. 6. ISSN 0882-7729. ProQuest 511241270.
  7. ^ a b c Dobrzynski, Judith H. (October 19, 1998). "Mourning Became Frick as an Art Collector". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 5, 2024. Retrieved February 5, 2024.
  8. ^ a b Bailey 2006, p. 13.
  9. ^ a b "Frick Collection Belongs to Public". The Christian Science Monitor. October 5, 1931. p. 6. ISSN 0882-7729. ProQuest 513076875.
  10. ^ Raynor, Vivien (December 13, 1987). "Art; Jersey City: Early Collector's Collection". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on February 3, 2024. Retrieved February 3, 2024.
  11. ^ Maeder, Jay (February 25, 1999). "American Sepulchral: Henry Clay Frick". Daily News. p. 506. Archived from the original on February 5, 2024. Retrieved February 5, 2024.
  12. ^ a b c d Lambert, Richard (January 9, 1999). "The robber baron's gift: Why did coke king Henry Frick leave his art collection to the US nation? asks Richard Lambert". Financial Times. p. 5. ProQuest 248753901.
  13. ^ Fabrikant, Geraldine (March 12, 2008). "Re-Enter the Gilded Age". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 8, 2024. Retrieved February 8, 2024.
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  16. ^ Gutkowski, Melanie Linn (Spring 2012). "Aspiration and Obsession; Henry Clay Frick and the W.H. Vanderbilt House and Collection". 19th Century. 32 (1): 29–30 – via Internet Archive.
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  19. ^ a b Skrabec, Q.R. (2014). Henry Clay Frick: The Life of the Perfect Capitalist. EBL-Schweitzer. McFarland, Incorporated, Publishers. p. 210. ISBN 978-0-7864-5608-6. Archived from the original on February 3, 2024. Retrieved February 3, 2024.
  20. ^ Gray, Christopher (November 14, 2014). "The Garden at the Frick, and How It Grew". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on January 29, 2024. Retrieved January 29, 2024.
  21. ^ Maeder, Jay (February 25, 1999). "American Sepulchral: Henry Clay Frick". Daily News. p. 506. Archived from the original on February 5, 2024. Retrieved February 5, 2024.
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  31. ^ a b c d "Art Fortune Goes to Public By Death of Mrs. H. C. Frick: Fifth Avenue Mansion and Collection of Old Masters, Valued Up to $30,000,000, May Become Museum Under Steel Man's Will". New York Herald Tribune. October 5, 1931. p. 1. ISSN 1941-0646. ProQuest 1114223395.
  32. ^ "Childs Frick, 81, Art Patron, Managed Frick Collection". Newsday. May 10, 1965. p. 34. ISSN 2574-5298. ProQuest 915250229; "Childs Frick Dies; Paleontologist: Millionaire Museum Aide Headed Art Collection". The New York Times. May 10, 1965. p. 33. ISSN 0362-4331. ProQuest 116840755.
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  36. ^ "$92,953,552 Total H. C. Frick Estate; Only $20,932,905 of Realty and Personal Property Is Tax- able in New York". The New York Times. March 2, 1923. Archived from the original on January 29, 2024. Retrieved January 29, 2024.
  37. ^ Grant, Jane (August 14, 1921). "Society Oracle". The Buffalo Times. p. 39. Archived from the original on January 29, 2024. Retrieved January 29, 2024.
  38. ^ "Henry Clay Frick Reference Library Nearing Completion: Collection Ultimately Will Contain Photographic Reproduction of Ancient and Modern Art Works". St. Louis Post – Dispatch. February 23, 1922. p. 18. ProQuest 578830122; "Frick Library Gives Key to World's Art". New York Herald. February 23, 1922. p. 11. Archived from the original on January 29, 2024. Retrieved January 29, 2024.
  39. ^ "The Bronx Market". The New York Times. April 12, 1923. p. 31. ISSN 0362-4331. ProQuest 100239214; "Library for Frick Home To Cost $139,000". New York Herald Tribune. April 11, 1923. p. 16. ISSN 1941-0646. ProQuest 1237300227.
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  41. ^ "Histories of Family Portraits Sought by Frick Art Library: Home of Great Collection of Portrait Photographs A Secluded Place to Study". The Christian Science Monitor. July 29, 1927. p. 5B. ISSN 0882-7729. ProQuest 512180943.
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Sources[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Bailey, Colin B. (2011). Fragonard's Progress of Love at the Frick Collection. Frick Collection. D Gilles. ISBN 978-1-904832-60-7.
  • Focarino, Joseph (2003). The Frick Collection. 9: Drawings, prints, and later acquisitions. ISBN 978-0-691-03836-0.
  • Koss, Elaine; Frick Collection, eds. (2004). Handbook of paintings ([New ed., substantially revised], reprinted ed.). The Frick Collection. ISBN 978-1-85759-328-0.
  • Ryskamp, Charles; Focarino, Joseph; DiLiberto, Richard; Frick Collection, eds. (1996). Art in the Frick Collection: paintings, sculpture, decorative arts. Abrams. ISBN 978-0-8109-1972-3.
  • Ryskamp, Charles; Focarino, Joseph, eds. (1990). Paintings from the Frick Collection. Abrams. ISBN 978-0-8109-3710-9.
  • Salomon, Xavier F. (October 11, 2022). Cocktails with a Curator. Rizzoli Publications. ISBN 978-0-8478-7246-6.

External links[edit]