NEW YORK, NY.-
Seventy-five years ago, the intention of Henry Clay Frick (18491919) to present to New York City his extraordinary art collection and magnificent mansion at 1 East 70th Street was realized with the opening of The Frick Collection
. The museums opening in 1935 was accompanied by national headlines, and present at the inaugural celebration were luminaries of the social and political worlds. In attendance were Colonel and Mrs. Charles Lindbergh as well as members of the Astor, Bache, Carnegie, Mellon, Rockefeller, Straus, Sulzberger, Vanderbilt, and Warburg families. Critics spoke of it as a great legacy of beauty and one where the quality of its collection was unsurpassed anywhere. That same year, the Frick Art Reference Library (founded in 1920 by Fricks daughter, Helen) was greatly expanded and moved into a new building on the same lot as the original Frick mansion. Thus, 2010 is a significant milestone for the entire institution, and to mark the occasion, the Frick will present a number of celebrations, programs, and new offerings, culminating with a free day on December 16, 2010, the anniversary of the museums public opening in 1935.
Summer Display Explores the 1935 Transformation of the Mansion into a Museum and Library
With Henry Clay Fricks death in 1919, his will was made public and the destiny of his collection and mansion as a museum was formalized, but not yet set into motion. After the death of his wife, Adelaide, in 1931, the Board of Trustees established by Mr. Fricks will became engaged in discussions about how to create a museum from this legacy. Ultimately, the house, built in 191314 by Thomas Hastings (18601929) of Carrère and Hastings, underwent expansion in order to transform it into a space suitable as a public institution. Significantly and sensitively enlarged by architect John Russell Pope (18731937), the resulting building opened to a fascinated public in December 1935. This summer, an educational display in the Cabinet, From Mansion to Museum: The Frick Collection Celebrates Seventy-Five Years, presents a group of related architectural drawings, photographs, and other materials. At the centerpiece of this display is a selection of elegant elevations executed for Pope by the artist Angelo Magnanti (18791969). These large-scale illustrations were a gift from the architect to the museums first director, Frederick Mortimer Clapp (18791969), presented in 1935 in honor of the museums opening. They offer insights into Popes vision for the series of new rooms that have since become beloved galleries and contemplative spaces. Also included will be a newly acquired pen and ink drawing by Vernon Howe Bailey (18741953) depicting the construction of the Frick Art Reference Library at 10 East 71st Street, designed by Pope in 1933. Baileys drawing was commissioned by The New York Sun for its daily feature, Intimate Sketches of New York City, and appeared in the April 23, 1934, issue. A floor plan accompanied by archival and new photography will elucidate the most significant alterations to The Frick Collections interior and, together with the drawings, will tell the story of transforming the once-private mansion into a public museum. This display will be on view from June 22 through September 5, 2010.
A New Orientation Film Delights Visitors
In anticipation of this anniversary year, the Frick has recently launched a new visitor education film, which replaces a seventeen-year-old slide-based production. The film airs at the museum daily, three times every hour, beginning at 10:20 a.m. Narrated by members of the Fricks senior staff, this eleven-minute presentation was produced and directed by the award-winning filmmaker Christopher Noey. Shot in HD throughout the Fricks refurbished and relit galleries, it tells the story of Mr. Frick, his home, and his art collection and includes recently restored archival footage and other previously unreleased materials.
Building the Frick Collection
An Introduction to the House and Its Collections
Colin B. Bailey, the Fricks Associate Director and Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator, is the author of an acclaimed publication that documents the building at 1 East 70th Street and explores how the creation of this residence influenced the taste of the collector in the final years of his life. Building The Frick Collection also addresses the transition from mansion to public museum subsequently undertaken by John Russell Pope. Using recently acquired and hitherto unpublished archival materials, Bailey carefully documents the history of the house and its owner and reveals for the first time Fricks passionate involvement in the project. By drawing upon recent studies of domestic architecture and interior decoration during the Gilded Age, he places Fricks achievement in context. Elegantly written and lavishly illustrated, the book is intended for a general readership while also making an important contribution to the history of collecting in twentieth-century New York. It is available in softcover ($14.95) and hardcover ($25.95) in the Museum Shop of the Frick, on the institutions Web site (www.frick.orgColin org), and by phone (212) 547-6848.
Bailey is presently researching and writing the museums first book on its magnificent Fragonard Room and the paintings installed there since Henry Clay Frick purchased them through art dealer Joseph Duveen from the estate of J. P. Morgan. This room, recently relit and refurbished, has long been a signature gallery at the Frick, and Baileys book will explore the fascinating story of its centerpiece, the Progress of Love panels by Jean-Honoré Fragonard (17321806) that are widely considered to be the artists masterpiece. Published by D. Giles Limited, London, this well illustrated publication is forthcoming.