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Landmarks Preservation Commission Approves Enclosure of Frick Portico
Davis Brody Bond Aedas Architects and Planners. Model of the proposed Portico for Decorative Arts and Sculpture at The Frick Collection, south façade, 2010.
NEW YORK, NY.- Visitors at The Frick Collection find it difficult to believe that the Garden Court—a signature gallery considered by many to be the heart of the former mansion—was never enjoyed by its original resident, industrialist Henry Clay Frick (1849–1919). Indeed, it was created by enclosing a former carriage-way roughly fifteen years after his death, when in the 1930s architect John Russell Pope undertook the conversion of the Frick family home into a public museum, nearly doubling its size. The presentation of works of art within the mansion never remained static either, as Frick was an extremely active collector through his final days. His taste broadened from paintings to include sculpture and decorative arts, and only a year after moving into the residence, he began discussions with his original architect, Thomas Hastings of Carrère and Hastings, asking him to draw up plans for an extension that included a gallery devoted to the display of sculpture. The Frick Collection now returns to that idea. On June 22, 2010, at a meeting of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, a plan was approved, as submitted, to enclose an underutilized portion of the property, the portico in the Fifth Avenue Garden, which is viewable from inside the house but not open to the general public. The highly transparent enclosure of the portico, set back from the original limestone columns and cornice, will create a new gallery within the existing footprint of the institution. Construction is anticipated to begin in the fall of 2010, with an expected completion date of September 2011.

Comments Margot Bogert, Chair of the Board of Trustees, “The Frick is often thought of in terms of its paintings collection, which was assembled with great care and in concert with the development of the mansion in which it is displayed. However, we know that in Henry Clay Frick’s final years, he turned an equally keen eye to the acquisition of the decorative arts. Porcelain from the Royal Manufactory at Sèvres as well as fine examples of eighteenth-century furniture by Jean-Henri Riesener, Martin Carlin, and other notable cabinetmakers, entered his collection and are on display today. He was also drawn to sculpture, a direction continued thereafter by his daughter Helen Clay Frick. We have carried this forward, acquiring in that area, while formally establishing and expanding our Objects Conservation Department and appointing Charlotte Vignon as the museum’s first curator of decorative arts. With the creation of this new gallery, we will be able to present together significant examples of sculpture that are currently scattered throughout the institution in hallways and in galleries dominated by paintings. We hope to afford these objects the kind of sensitive display that Henry Clay Frick once dreamed they might have, and look forward to their closer study and appreciation, as a result.”

Adds Director Anne L. Poulet, “The gallery will also accommodate cases for the display of porcelain, a medium extremely well suited to this room’s natural light and its south-western orientation. A private foundation will fund the project to enclose and construct the portico gallery, and the Frick is actively raising endowment funds to support the costs of maintaining this additional gallery space. Through the adaptive reuse of this original but rarely-accessed space, the Frick will fulfill a wish first expressed by its founder more than ninety-four years ago to improve upon the display and public appreciation of sculpture and the decorative arts.”

The Frick Collection | Margot Boger | Anne L. Poulet |


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