Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Up to the corner of 70th Street and 5th Avenue to the Frick Collection, a fabulous mansion-turned-museum created by coal and steel baron Henry Clay Frick. A nice little pad opposite Central Park (I remarked to Lynda that we live across the road from a park too), it was built as his New York home and as a place to show his gorgeous collection of paintings, sculptures, bronzes and furniture.

It's a dizzying collection - very strong on Whistler, Degas, Rembrandt, Italian Masters and - ye gods and little fishes - the Hans Holbein portrait of Sir Thomas More that I've had on my wall since the 1970s.


There was a movie showing in the Music Room about the creation of the collection, and for all of his faults as a strike-breaking capitalist, Frick left to the City of New York and the world a wonderful legacy of the very finest art in a most beautiful building. His daughter also endowed a research library nearby which is separate but equal in a monument to her father.

No photos, alas, but I picked up the catalogue and some postcards. I really liked Thomas Lawrence's Lady Peel (he was said to be "Always in Love and Always in Debt")

IRL, the painting is hauntingly translucent. Many of Frick's choices were portraits of beautiful women, and what a good theme.

I also enjoyed seeing a John Constable picture of Salisbury Cathedral - I've had a similar image on a plate on my kitchen wall since the 1980s.

Among all the masters, Titians and Van Dycks, one really caught my eye - a Bronzino called Portrait of Ludovico Capponi. Again, IRL it's a brilliant, light-infused work with the cloth looking as real as can be.

I'm really glad I saw this collection - sure it's not as large as MOMA or The Metropolitan, but the quality and the trappings and surrounds are a tribute to the gilded age. Hopefully there's a murderous drug dealer in Mexico building a similar legacy today.

There's some nice architecture around the museum too.

Back to home for lunch via 8th Avenue and the Chelsea Markets.

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