The Frick Collection is an art museum located in the Henry Clay Frick House on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, New York City at 1 East 70th Street, at the northeast corner with Fifth Avenue. It houses the collection of industrialist Henry Clay Frick (1849–1919).
Location in Manhattan
|Location||1 East 70th Street|
Manhattan, New York City
|Public transit access||Subways: at 68th Street – Hunter College station|
Buses: M1, M2, M3, M4, M66, M72, M98, M101, M102, M103
Henry Frick started his substantial art collection as soon as he started amassing his fortunes. A considerable amount of his art collection is located in his former residence "Clayton" in Pittsburgh, which is today a part of the Frick Art & Historical Center. Another part was given by his daughter and heiress Helen to the Frick Fine Arts Building, which is on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh.
The family did not permanently move from Pittsburgh to New York until 1905. Henry Frick initially leased the Vanderbilt house at 640 Fifth Avenue, to which he moved a substantial amount of his collection. He had his permanent residence built between 1912 and 1914 by Thomas Hastings of Carrère and Hastings. He stayed in the house until his death in 1919. He willed the house and all of its contents, including art, furniture, and decorative objects, as a public museum. His widow Adelaide Howard Childs Frick, however, retained the right of residence and continued living in the mansion with her daughter Helen. After Adelaide Frick died in 1931, the conversion of the house into a public museum started.
John Russell Pope altered and enlarged the building in the early 1930s to adapt it to use as a public institution. It opened to the public on December 16, 1935. Various additions to the architecture and landscape architecture of the museum site have been considered over the years including the placement of a prominent magnolia garden from the 1930s. As stated by the museum announcements: "As a result of a decision of the Board of Trustees in 1939, three magnolias were selected for the Fifth Avenue garden. The two trees on the lower tier are Saucer Magnolias (Magnolia soulangeana) and the species on the upper tier by the flagpole is a Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata)."
Further expansions of the museum took place in 1977 and in 2011. In 2014, the museum announced further expansion plans, but came up against community opposition because it would result in the loss of a garden. The Frick ultimately dropped those plans and is said to be considering other options.
The Frick is one of the pre-eminent small art museums in the United States, with a high-quality collection of old master paintings and fine furniture housed in nineteen galleries of varying size within the former residence. Frick had intended the mansion to become a museum eventually, and a few of the paintings are still arranged according to Frick's design. Besides its permanent collection, the Frick has always organized small, focused temporary exhibitions.
The collection features some of the best-known paintings by major European artists as well as numerous works of sculpture and porcelain. It also has 18th-century French furniture, Limoges enamel, and Oriental rugs. After Frick's death, his daughter, Helen Clay Frick, and the Board of Trustees expanded the collection: nearly half of the collection's artworks have been acquired since 1919. Although the museum cannot lend the works of art that belonged to Frick, as stipulated in his will, The Frick Collection does lend artworks and objects acquired since his death.
Included in the collection are Jean-Honoré Fragonard's masterpiece The Progress of Love, three paintings by Johannes Vermeer including Mistress and Maid, two paintings by Jacob van Ruisdael including Quay at Amsterdam, and Piero della Francesca's St. John the Evangelist.
The Frick is known to have extraordinary temporary exhibits. When the Mauritshuis was under reconstruction, key and rare works like Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring and Fabritius’s The Goldfinch toured the United States, and was exhibited at the Frick in 2013 as opposed to other venues available in New York City.
The Frick Collection oversees the nearby Frick Art Reference Library. The collections held at 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 augment its research collections. Opened in 1920, the library quickly became a prime resource for students.
In 2011, Ian Wardropper succeeded Anne Poulet, who had run the Frick Collection as director since 2003. Poulet took the position after Samuel Sachs II stepped down after running the institution for six years. Poulet was the first female director of the Frick. During her time at the Frick Collection, Poulet increased the museum’s small board of trustees, adding 10 new members. She 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, although many have made significantly larger contributions.
Featured artists include: