An Introduction to The Frick Collection

A visit to The Frick Collection evokes the splendor and tranquillity of a time gone by and at the same time testifies to how great art collections can still inspire viewers today. Housed in the New York mansion built by Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919), one of America’s most successful coke and steel industrialists, are masterpieces of Western painting, sculpture, and decorative art, displayed in a serene and intimate setting. Each of sixteen galleries offers a unique presentation of works of art arranged for the most part without regard to period or national origin, in the same spirit as Mr. Frick enjoyed the art he loved before he bequeathed it to the public.

Both the mansion and the works in it serve as a monument to one of America's greatest art collectors. Built in 1913-14 from designs by the firm Carrère and Hastings, the house is set back from Fifth Avenue by an elevated garden punctuated by three magnificent magnolia trees.

Since Mr. Frick’s death in 1919, the Collection has expanded both its physical dimensions and its holdings. Approximately one third of the pictures have been acquired since then, and twice — in 1931-35 and 1977 — the building has been enlarged to better serve the public. At the Frick, visitors stroll from the airy, lighthearted Fragonard Room, named for that artist's large wall paintings of The Progress of Love and furnished with exceptional eighteenth-century French furniture and Sèvres porcelain, to the more austere atmosphere of the Living Hall, filled with masterpieces by Holbein, Titian, El Greco, and Bellini. Passing through the Library, rich with Italian bronzes and Chinese porcelain vases, one arrives at Mr. Frick’s long West Gallery, hung with celebrated canvases including landscapes by Constable, Ruisdael, and Corot and portraits by Rembrandt and Velázquez. Vermeer's Mistress and Maid, the last painting Mr. Frick bought, is one of three pictures by that artist in the Collection, while Piero della Francesca's image of St. John the Evangelist, dominating the Enamel Room, is the only large painting by Piero in the United States. The East Gallery, adorned with works by Degas, Goya, Turner, Van Dyck, Claude Lorrain, Whistler, and others, usually concludes a visit to the galleries and leads visitors to the serene space of the Garden Court, where they pause beneath the skylight, surrounded by greenery and the gentle sounds of the fountain.

For more information about The Frick Collection and its galleries, see Tour the Frick.