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Ian Wardropper

The Frick Collection is an art museum of the

highest quality set in the distinguished house
for which its collection was intended. Amid
the clamor of New York City, the Frick offers
an intimate and contemplative oasis in which
to experience great works of art. These works
reflect the interests and choices of the house’s
original owner, Henry Clay Frick, and are
organized not by period or country but rather
in relation to the scale and the nature of the
rooms. The Living Hall still pairs Holbein’s Sir
Thomas More with his portrait of More’s great
enemy, Thomas Cromwell—just as Henry Clay
Frick left them. No doubt, the most exhilarat-
ing moment for the visitor remains the first view of the magnificent West
Gallery, once the largest private art gallery in the city. to match his paintings, he acquired Renaissance and Rococo furniture,
Henry Clay Frick was born in western Pennsylvania. As a young as well as Italian bronzes, Limoges enamels, and porcelain, among
man, he astutely understood the importance of coke, establishing the other things. He died in 1919, and his will left his collection to the public.
ovens necessary to produce it near some of the best coal fields in the Following his wife’s death in 1931, the trustees and family engaged the
area. When in 1882 Andrew Carnegie brought him into the Carnegie architect John Russell Pope to enlarge the public space of the institution,
Brothers Steel Company to secure a steady supply of this essential ingre- which opened in 1935. The Frick has continued to add to its holdings,
dient, he also recognized Frick’s organizational genius. For nearly two notably through the advocacy of Frick’s daughter Helen Clay Frick, who
decades, the two men ran a highly profitable enterprise until they quar- was responsible for acquiring many early Italian paintings, as well as for
reled. Having won a lawsuit against his former partner, Frick moved establishing the important Frick Art Reference Library.
from Pittsburgh to New York. Already a collector in his twenties, he While this is a personal selection, I have tried to reflect the range
changed his focus from contemporary art to old masters. As he carefully and quality of the collection. Narrowing the field to fit this publication
selected masterpieces of painting, he bought land and eventually hired was the most difficult task. My hope is that this small book will inspire
the firm Carrère and Hastings to design a house for his small family that people to visit The Frick Collection and discover the works of art that
would also suit his art collection. Recognizing the need for furnishings most inspire them.


Duccio di Buoninsegna
(Italian, ca. 1255–ca. 1319)

The Temptation of Christ on the Mountain, 1308–11

Tempera on poplar panel (cradled), 17 x 18⅛ in. (43.2 × 46 cm)
Purchased by The Frick Collection, 1927 (1927.1.35)

Duccio’s large two-sided altarpiece Maestá, for the main

altar of Siena’s cathedral, is a high point of early Renaissance
painting. Surrounding an image of the enthroned Madonna
and Child are panels depicting saints, angels, and apostles; on
the back are paintings of the life and passion of Christ. Over
the years, some of the panels, such as this one, were dispersed,
and the altarpiece itself moved to the museum adjacent to the
cathedral. While originally part of a series, The Temptation
of Christ on the Mountain is a striking example of Duccio’s
skill in painting and composing a single scene. Having been
offered “all the kingdoms of the world” if he will wor-
ship the devil, Christ rejects him. Symbolically larger
than the mountains and scattered cities, the central pro-
tagonists dominate the space. Christ’s elegant pose and
the simple authority of his gesture contrast with the
dark and hideous figure of the devil. The minutely detailed
crenellations of the walled cities and the striations of the moun-
tains are depicted against the abstraction of the gold ground
behind. Recent study has revealed that the two angels to the
right were added by an assistant of Duccio at some point
after the panel was completed. Its glowing colors and bril-
liant design make this a compelling example of the early
achievement of Italian painting.


Lorenzo di Pietro di Giovanni, called Vecchietta
(Italian, 1410–1480)
The Resurrection, 1472
Bronze, 21 ⅜ x 16 ⅟4 in. (54.3 x 41.3 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest (1916.2.2)

Vecchietta was the leading sculptor of his native

Siena in the fifteenth century, and his work had a
strong presence in the city’s cathedral, where Duccio’s
Maestá (p. 6) crowned the main altar. Fully signed and
dated on the tomb, this bronze relief reveals the art-
ist’s idiosyncratic, late International Gothic style. The
elegant, swaying posture of the risen Christ is centered on a
sharply chased mandorla of the heads and wings of fourteen
seraphs. From their rocky pedestals, two angels adore this
heavenly vision. Below, sleeping soldiers remain oblivious to
the miracle taking place. Their angular limbs seem to spill
out of the relief’s frame. While their bodies are stylized, their
sleeping postures are awkward, in perfect counterpoise to
Christ’s otherworldly grace. Vecchietta’s early experience in
wood carving is evident in the gouged quality of the relief.
The purpose of this small-scaled work is not documented,
but it may have been the door of a tabernacle in a church.


Piero della Francesca
(Italian, ca. 1420–1492)
St. John the Evangelist, 1454–69
Tempera on poplar panel, 51 ¾ x 23 in. (131.5 x 58.3 cm)
Purchased by The Frick Collection, 1936 (1936.1.138)

Reading a book, the barefoot saint stands on a marble floor

before a parapet. He is enveloped in a red cape, its gathers and
folds shadowed by light raking from the right. With custom-
ary care, Piero della Francesca delineates John’s weathered
features, twin-pointed white beard, and strong hands. Metal
bookbinding decorations and the garment’s embroidered
hem are the only ornaments. With its solemnity and power-
ful form, this image stands out even in a collection crowded
with masterpieces. But it was meant to be part of a larger set
of paintings, as a 2013 exhibition at the Frick clarified. It was
one of four standing saints (including Augustine, Michael
Archangel, and Nicholas of Tolentino) flanking the lost cen-
tral painting of an altarpiece in the church of Sant’Agostino, in
the painter’s hometown of Borgo San Sepolcro. The altarpiece
was removed in the sixteenth century, its components scat-
tered. Remarkably, the Frick owns three of the smaller panels
that filled out its lateral piers and predella (a series of small
panels beneath the larger images of an altarpiece), in addition
to this large panel painting.
Although Piero is acknowledged as one of the founding
figures of the Italian Renaissance, only a few of his works
found their way to the United States. This was the first major
painting that was purchased after The Frick Collection
opened to the public in 1935, an acquisition that underscored
the institution’s continuing mission to collect great art.


Giovanni Bellini
(Italian, ca. 1424/35–1516)
St. Francis in the Desert, ca. 1475–78
Oil on panel, 49 ⅟16 x 55 ⅞ in. (124.6 x 142 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest (1915.1.03)

At first glance, the subject of this masterpiece can be

immediately grasped: St. Francis steps from his rustic
study, arms outstretched, to face the morning light. Yet
its composition and details are so astute and so subtle that
there is always more to discover. It is likely that the saint is
receiving the stigmata, a miracle that reportedly happened
on Mount La Verna, where he established a retreat in 1224.
Typically, depictions of this scene include a seraphic crucifix,
the traditional image of the divine source that conferred
the imprints of the wounds of the Crucifixion. Instead,
Bellini leaves this unseen, though he carefully stages linear
perspective to move our eyes beyond the frame to the left.
Rocky cliffs echo the sharp pleats of the simple robe Francis
adopted to reflect his vow of poverty and separate him from
the material world—the distant town and castle—he has left
behind. As can be seen, every detail has its place in the story,
including the walled bed of medicinal plants, the cultivation
of which was a monastic occupation, and the skull, which
reminded Francis (and the viewer) of mortality. Each animal
depicted—heron, donkey, and rabbit, among others—has
connotations within the symbolic system of the medieval
bestiary. Above all, the colors, ranging from sky blue to warm
earth tones, glow in the light and cling to our memory of this
meditative painting.


Jean (Jehan) Barbet
(French, active 1475–d. 1514)
Angel, 1475
Bronze, 44 ⅟2 in. (113 cm)
Purchased by The Frick Collection, 1943 (1943.2.82)

This graceful columnar angel welcomes visitors to

the contemplative space of the Frick’s Garden Court. It is
a unique example of French bronze casting from the late
fifteenth century, an era when many sculptures were melted
down to create armaments. In Gothic letters on one wing is
an inscription that translates as “the 28th day of March the
year 1475 Jehan Barbet from Lyons made this small angel.”
Barbet became cannon maker to the king in 1491, and recent
technical studies confirm that this work was created using
means consistent with contemporary cannon founding.
The long, thin drapery pleats seem to be from an earlier
era; however, this elongation is part of its fabrication as a
cannon-like form (the wings are attached separately). The
angle of the angel’s gaze likely reflects its original position
high above an altar or building. Barbet was probably the
maker rather than the modeler of this elegant and still
enigmatic work, but the inscription testifies to his pride in
its creation.


Hans Memling
(Flemish, ca. 1430–1494)
Portrait of a Man, ca. 1470
Oil on oak panel, 13 ⅛ × 9 ⅛ in. (33.3 × 23.2 cm)
Purchased by The Frick Collection, 1968 (1968.1.169)

A serious and dignified man poses before a window that

opens onto a view of a distant landscape. An illusionistic
frame projects him into the viewer’s space, while a cerulean
sky sets off his dark locks of hair and the horizon line accents
his jutting jaw. In the fifteenth century, many artists found
their way to the cosmopolitan city of Bruges, which is likely
represented here by the church spire and tower. Memling was
one of the city’s finest portraitists, and setting a figure before a
distant landscape became one of his hallmarks. While the sit-
ter remains unidentified, Memling’s naturalistic observations
and clarity of form give him a powerful presence. Details such
as the stubble of hair around his lips and chin define his fea-
tures vividly, though there are few psychological clues to his
character. His clenched hand suggests determination, but his
turned gaze makes him slightly aloof. What the painter has
achieved is a compelling record of a man, conjuring through
paint glazes and tone a palpably human depiction.


Riccio (Andrea Briosco)
(Italian, 1470–1532)
Lamp, ca. 1516–24
Bronze, 6 ⅝ in. (16.8 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest (1916.2.18)

To modern eyes, this is a strange, even bizarre, object.

Though its forms are adapted from ancient prototypes, they
are whimsically combined. It is an intensely personal work
that is best seen up close so as to examine its minute details.
And it is exceedingly rare; there are only two related works by
Riccio, one in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and
the other in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
Riccio was a great master of the small bronze in the early
Renaissance, specializing in statuettes and functional objects
for educated patrons. Clients such as Girolamo Santasofia, a
professor of medicine at the University of Padua and an early
owner of this bronze lamp, were well versed in classical art
and literature. The form and decoration of Riccio’s works
satisfied the learned interests of these collectors. The lamp’s
overall shape is that of a classical half boot; it once had a lid
that covered the reservoir for oil that was lit by means of a
wick at the front spout. Motifs culled from ancient sarcophagi
and grave steles—such as garlands, bucrania (ornaments in
the form of bull skulls), and grotesque heads—are freely
combined to decorate upper and lower registers. The middle
panel features a tightly packed frieze of children surrounding
a goat on one side and a severed ram’s head on the other,
alluding to sacrificial practices. The dense and encrusted
surface of the body of the lamp is supported by a tripod base;
delicate scrolls relieve its mass and served to handle and
suspend it.


Bernard Palissy (French, 1510–1590)
Saint-Porchaire Ware
Ewer, ca. 1550–60
Glazed earthenware, 9 ⅟4 in. (23.5 cm)
Purchased through the Sidney R. Knafel Fund, 2015 (2015.9.01)

This rare piece connects the two most distinctive and

original ceramic makers in Renaissance France: the Saint-
Porchaire atelier and Bernard Palissy. Its handle, in the form
of a bearded male figure reaching around the rim, is matched
by a green lizard spout. On the body, geometric patterns of
red-brown clay have been laid into white clay, and frogs,
shells, masks, and other ornaments have been applied. Only
a few dozen works—no two alike—survive from the potters
associated with the town of Saint-Porchaire in Poitou. Like
this ewer, the other pitchers, salts, and vessels combine inlaid
decoration with applied forms. In 1540, Bernard Palissy, the
great naturalist and ceramicist, settled at Saintes, about
ten miles away. His production is famous for combining
clay forms taken from molds of the plants and creatures
he studied. The lizard-spout was taken from a mold from
Palissy’s Parisian workshop, discovered in excavations near
the Louvre in the 1980s. This piece is key to understanding
the development of the two ceramic traditions. The ewer’s
mixture of rustic forms with sophisticated patterns and
techniques makes it a quintessential example of French
Renaissance art.


Unknown Mantuan (?) Artist
Naked Female Figure, early sixteenth century
Bronze, 10 ⅟2 in. (26.7 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest (1916.2.14)

This sophisticated sculpture is both delicate in its gestures

and dramatic in its expression. The woman moves her arms
to cover her nakedness, a pose derived from famous antique
sculptures of the Venus Pudica. Remnants of a dark green
patination recall the ancient bronzes that were also a source
of inspiration. She turns her head in startled anger, her mouth
wide open as if screaming. This intense state may have its
source in the art of Andrea Mantegna (1431–1506), who often
painted such passionate expressions. The silver inlaid eyes
and nipples are a luxurious touch that further suggests its
making in the court of Mantua, where the sculptor Antico and
the painter Mantegna practiced.
It is a thoroughly satisfying sculpture in the round; the
statuette’s half-step forward becomes evident from the side
perspective and the elegant curves of her body from the rear.
The identity of the woman is open to question, but a case can
be made for her representing the goddess Diana surprised
in her bath by Actaeon. She punished his transgression by
changing him into a deer so that his hunting dogs would tear
him to pieces.


Severo da Ravenna
(Italian, ca. 1496–ca. 1543)
Neptune on a Sea Monster, ca. 1510
Bronze, 13 ⅜ x 11 ⅟2 in. (34 x 29.2 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest (1916.2.12)

Like Riccio (p. 19), Severo da Ravenna worked in Padua and

cast bronze statuettes and functional objects such as oil lamps,
inkwells, and candlesticks. With the help of his workshop,
his production was extensive; no less than five works from
his hand or from his circle are in The Frick Collection, this
being one of the finest of all his bronzes. The sea god Neptune,
muscular and athletic, stands astride a sea monster. With one
hand, he holds up a trident with which he controls the waves;
with the other, he clutches the reins (now missing). The
monster rears back to look at his master, but Neptune’s stern
gaze leaves no doubt who is in command.
This delightful piece reflects the Renaissance fascination
with antiquity, as well as its maker’s imaginative conception,
technical mastery, and sheer artistry. Against the scaly, floppy-
eared creature, Neptune’s smooth, powerfully built body
becomes even nobler. The monster’s writhing tail makes
for an unsteady mount, reminding us of the changeable seas
below, but Neptune masters his live chariot, as well as his
domain. Severo brilliantly exploited the casting and chasing of
metal to express the features of these two figures that connect
closely despite their vertical and horizontal alignments.


Hans Holbein
(German, 1497/98–1543)
Sir Thomas More, 1527
Oil on panel, 29 ½ x 23 ¾ in. (74.9 x 60.3 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest (1912.1.77)

Holbein was much admired at the court of Henry viii and

garnered frequent commissions to portray the king and his
courtiers. Among the most riveting of his portraits is this
one of the famous English statesman and author of Utopia,
Sir Thomas More (1477/78–1535). Holbein was especially
sympathetic to this man, who first welcomed him when he
arrived in England. Tightly constrained within the space
defined by the armrest in front and the curtain behind, More
stares fixedly to our right. The precision of Holbein’s brush-
strokes draws us to examine such details as the stubble on his
chin and the fur collar of his garment. The chain of office with
Tudor rose pendant and the folded note in his grasp remind
us that this is a man accustomed to command, while his dis-
tant gaze reveals his vision and idealism.
Henry Clay Frick hung the Living Hall (p. 5) with portraits
of principled men: St. Jerome, St. Francis, and Sir Thomas
More, who was canonized in 1935. With a keen sense of
history, he balanced this image with Holbein’s portrait
of Thomas Cromwell, the minister who interrogated More
and then ordered his execution because of his refusal to
declare the king the head of the Church of England. In a par-
able of the vagaries of power, Cromwell was in time also con-
demned to death by the monarch.

Léonard Limousin (or Limosin)
(French, ca. 1505–1575/77)
The Triumph of the Eucharist and the Catholic Faith,
Painted enamel on copper, partly gilded, 7 ¾ x 10 in. (19.7 x 25.4 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest (1916.4.22)

In the city of Limoges in central France, Renaissance arti-

sans revived the medieval tradition of enameling on copper.
With exacting skill, they applied brilliant colors to the metal
surfaces, and their work—mainly religious or mythological
subjects—circulated throughout Europe. One artist, Léonard
Limousin, was renowned for his ability as a portraitist.
This group portrait of the Guise family in an allegory of the
Catholic faith is exceptional in his oeuvre. The first genera-
tion of the family is represented posthumously at center as
Claude de Lorraine, the first Duke of Guise, strolls with his
brother, Jean, Cardinal of Lorraine. François, the second
duke, like his father famed for battling heretics, pushes the
chariot over the bodies of Protestants. His brother Charles
stands at far right next to his emblem, an ivy-covered obel-
isk with the motto Te Stante Virebo (With you standing, I will
flourish). The manuscript he holds may refer to his speech in
the recent Colloque at Poissy in which he proposed modera-
tion in the current religious conflict. The family matriarch,
Antoinette de Bourbon, seated in the chariot, holds chalice
and host, symbols of transubstantiation—the transformation
of the bread and wine of the Eucharist into the actual body
and blood of Christ—a tenet that divided the faiths.
Henry Clay Frick acquired en bloc the Limoges collection
amassed by J. Pierpont Morgan, paying an enormous price.
He even gave up his private office to create a gallery to display
these works.


Unknown Italian Artist
One of a Pair of Chests (cassoni),
third quarter of sixteenth century
Carved walnut, 28 x 65 ½ x 23 ¼ in. (71.1 x 166.4 x 59.1 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest (1916.5.81)

As the mansion he was having built took shape and in the

years following its completion, Henry Frick recognized the
need for furnishings to equal the quality of the paintings that
had been his collecting focus. For the long West Gallery, he
acquired an important group of Italian Renaissance chests
to line the walls and tables to stand in the center. Marriage
chests, called cassoni, were covered with painted or carved
decoration and made throughout Italy in the fifteenth and
sixteenth centuries. Often the coats of arms of the family that
commissioned them were prominently displayed at the center
of one side.
This cassone bears the arms of the Roman family
Roberti. As its overall shape resembles ancient Roman
sarcophagi (stone coffins), it is not surprising that much of its
ornamentation—garlands and grotesque heads on the apron
below—is borrowed from them. The central panel of the
principal side depicts two scenes from the myth of Apollo. On
the left, the satyr Marsyas, who boasted that he was a better
musician than Apollo, competes in a contest playing bagpipes
(instead of the more usual panpipes) while the god plays a lira
da braccio. On the right, Marsyas, having lost, is tied to a tree
and flayed alive by Apollo. Such scenes from ancient history
or mythology often decorated cassoni as moral lessons for the
married couple.


Agnolo Bronzino
(Italian, 1503–1572)
Ludovico Capponi, ca. 1550–55
Oil on panel, 45 ⅞ x 33 ¾ in. (116.5 x 85.7 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest (1915.1.19)

The youth’s haughty stare, perhaps revealing a touch of

vulnerability, draws us to this portrait. Yet it is the mastery
of the artist’s touch that makes us linger over it. Bronzino’s
precision clarifies every detail: the “Cupid’s bow” lips, the
sharp shadow defining the sitter’s brow and cheek, the cuts
and pleats that ornament his sleeve, the broad folds of the
drapery that closes off the background. The artist’s mannerist
style is evident in the long torso and elegantly tapered fingers,
but it is the artificiality of this airless scene that marks the tone
of Bronzino’s art.
Capponi’s black satin and white cloth costume, in the
Capponi family colors, contrasts starkly with the green drape
behind. The story behind the painting tells us that Ludovico, a
page at the Medici court in Florence, fell in love with a woman
intended for another. It took three years for the Medici duke
to agree to permit this union, decreeing that they must marry
within a day. The cameo partly concealed by Ludovico’s
fingers bears the word Sorte (Fate). This and the prominent
codpiece hint at the love affair and its resolution hiding
beneath the image’s immaculate surface.

Paolo Veronese
(Italian, ca. 1528–1588)
The Choice between Virtue and Vice, ca. 1565
Oil on canvas, 86 ¼ x 66 ¾ in. (219.1 x 169.5 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest (1912.1.129)

Veronese depicted the luxurious ways of Venice’s aristocracy

better than any of the city’s painters. This canvas presents
a moral tale warning those who succumb to the pleasures
of wealth. A man dressed in pure white—often representing
Hercules in contemporary allegories—is caught between two
women vying for his allegiance. The richly bejeweled woman
who turns her back to us is Vice. Her treacherous nature is
revealed by the knife and the mysterious statue of a sphinx
hidden behind her; the results of her dangerous advances are
seen in the man’s stocking ripped by her talon-like finger-
nails. Wreathed in laurel, Virtue embraces the man, who has
clearly made his choice. Aspiration to virtue is not easy, as the
ascending path beyond implies, but its rewards are eternal,
as asserted by the motto chiseled into the entablature, which
translates as “Honor and Virtue Flourish after Death.”
The brilliance of his colors, the sumptuous rendering of
materials, and the clarity of his compositions made Veronese
a favorite. This highly regarded work was owned by some
of the greatest collectors of their time, including Emperor
Rudolf ii, Queen Christina of Sweden, and the Duke of
Orléans. Frick acquired it and a companion piece, Wisdom
and Strength, shortly before his house was finished, and the
two paintings have held pride of place at the end of the Frick’s
West Gallery ever since.


El Greco
(Spanish, of Greek origin, 1541–1614)
Vincenzo Anastagi, ca. 1575
Oil on canvas, 74 x 49 ⅞ in. (188 x 126.7 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest (1913.1.68)

Frick was one of only a few American collectors of the early

twentieth century to be interested in Spanish paintings. El
Greco particularly fascinated him; he hung the haunting St.
Jerome over his Living Hall fireplace and the small but vibrant
Purification of the Temple above the fireplace in his study. The
last canvas by the artist he bought was the most unusual: the
only full-length standing portrait by this Crete-born artist
who worked in Italy before beginning a flourishing career
in Spain.
It was during a two-year stint in Rome that El Greco was
commissioned to paint Anastagi, the captain of the garrison
at Castel Sant’Angelo, who had fought against the Ottoman
Turks in his native Malta. His stout body, muscled calves,
cocky stance, and direct gaze suggest the hardened life of
a soldier. El Greco made some significant changes in the
course of painting this portrait: pentimenti reveal that the
sword originally jutted right, the curtain drooped further
beneath the legs, and the window was added later. The
glint of light on the breastplate, the indeterminate space of
the room, even the casually dropped helmet, all combine to
create an arresting and somewhat disconcerting portrait.

Diego Rodríguez da Silva y Velázquez
(Spanish, 1599–1660)
King Philip 1v of Spain, 1644
Oil on canvas, 51 ⅛ x 39 ⅛ in. (129.9 x 99.4 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest (1911.1.123)

A “painter’s painter,” Velázquez is admired for his

unerring ability to capture flesh and cloth in oil on can-
vas. As the official and favorite painter of the king, he
knew Philip iv’s features all too well. The somewhat
gloomy countenance with high forehead and slightly
sagging jowls appears in a number of full-length or
bust-length portraits. This three-quarter length render-
ing gives the artist scope to depict the silvery glint of
the royal jacket’s embroidered threads and the sheen of
the satin sleeves. As we approach, the gleaming mate-
rial that Velázquez conjures is revealed to be created by
deftly placed brushstrokes, reminding us of the illusion-
istic power of art.
Even more astonishing is that the painter was work-
ing quickly in makeshift circumstances. The king had
just led a rare successful battle against the French siege
of Lerida in Catalonia. Following this skirmish, a tem-
porary studio was assembled in the town of Fraga, and
the king posed in the silver and rose costume he had
just worn.


Anthony van Dyck
(Flemish, 1599–1641)
Frans Snyders, ca. 1620
Margareta de Vos, ca. 1620
Oil on canvas, 56 ⅛ x 41 ½ in. (142.6 x 105.4 cm); 51 ½ x 39 ⅛ in. (130.7 x 99.4 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest (1909.1.39 and 1909.1.42)

Frick was fond of portraits, and he acquired more paint-

ings by Van Dyck—celebrated for his likenesses of men and
women in Italy, England, and his native Flanders—than by
any other artist. The man wielding the brush knew the sitters
of these two portraits. Frans Snyders was a successful paint-
er of animals and hunting scenes, and his wife Margareta
(who kept her family name, as was the custom at the time)
was the daughter of yet another Antwerp artist, Cornelis de
Vos. Confident and already proficient at age twenty-one, Van
Dyck depicts his friends directly and sympathetically.
Clearly the couple had prospered; they occupy grand
architectural spaces with columns and prospects over the
countryside behind billowing drapery. They are fashionably
dressed, he with lace collar and cuffs, she with white ruff
and embroidered stomacher, over expensive black clothes.
His slender, elegantly positioned hands appear to be more
those of a patrician than of a man dexterous with a paint-
brush. Viewed side by side, the pendant portraits have a
satisfying counterpoise—he standing, she seated—so it was
fortunate that Henry Clay Frick was able to reunite these
works that had been separated for more than a century.


Bartolomé Estebán Murillo
(Spanish, 1617–1682)
Self-Portrait, ca. 1650–55
Oil on canvas, 42 ⅛ x 30 ½ in. (107 x 77.5 cm)
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Henry Clay Frick II, 2014 (2014.1.01)

One of the greatest Spanish painters of the seventeenth

century and the most avidly collected in the nineteenth,
Murillo executed only two self-portraits: this one and
another some ten to fifteen years later that is in the
National Gallery, London. The presentation is a highly origi-
nal concept: he depicts himself in an oval image as if in a
weathered stone frame set slightly askew on a ledge. With
its reference to antiquity, the stone block confers a timeless
quality to the relatively young artist, who seems determined
to have a long-lasting reputation. He wears a black outfit
with thin white collar; his jet-black locks flow around his
face. In 1843, when the art historian Jacob Burckhardt saw
the portrait in the Galerie Espagnole, King Louis Philippe’s
collection at the Louvre, he wrote: “These slightly retracted
nostrils, these flashing eyes under the splendid, wrathfully
arching eyebrows, this whole face, is it not an arsenal of
This is one of the most important acquisitions to come
to the collection in decades, though it has a long association
with Henry Clay Frick. It was the first Spanish painting he
bought in what would become a concerted effort to collect
such masters as Velázquez, El Greco, and Goya. Continuing
its history of being in the possession of distinguished own-
ers, Frick took it to Eagle Rock, his summer house in Pride’s
Crossing, Massachusetts. Now, having descended through
the family, it is a generous gift from Dr. and Mrs. Henry Clay
Frick ii.


Rembrandt van Rijn
(Dutch, 1606–1669)
Self-Portrait, 1658
Oil on canvas, 52 ⅝ x 40 ⅞ in. (133.7 x 103.8 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest (1906.1.97)

Throughout his life, the great Dutch master Rembrandt

recorded his own features in more than sixty paintings. In
this, his largest self-portrait, he fills the canvas to create a
monumental image. At first glance, he appears overbearing,
his regal presence signaled by the casually clutched scep-
ter and the golden robe. Looking more closely, one notes
an expression tinged with sadness through the shadows
surrounding his eyes and also the double chin beneath sag-
ging, bloated flesh: mercilessly, the artist recorded his every
blemish. Dressed in studio props to resemble an Oriental
potentate, he is also sardonically commenting on his person-
al misfortune: two years earlier, he had declared bankruptcy.
Despite the ravages of age and financial ruin, Rembrandt’s
mastery of paint turns this image into a triumph of art. Thick
impasto gives his robe a palpable presence, his body loom-
ing into the light from the darkened background. Above all,
his powerful hands and penetrating eyes stay in the viewer’s
mind as the indelible image of a great artist.

R E M B R A N D T VA N R I J N | 45
Claude Lorrain (French, 1600–1682)
Heroic Landscape (recto); Sketches of Cassoni, Figures,
and Clouds (verso), 1655–58
Pen, iron-gall ink, brown wash, gray wash, and white heightening on laid paper,
11 ⅞ x 15 11 ⁄ 16 in. (30.1 x 39.8 cm)
Purchased by The Frick Collection, 1982 (1982.3.124)

Though born in the duchy of Lorraine, the artist Claude

Gellée, commonly named after his native region, practiced
mainly in Italy. He devoted himself to sketching and painting
the countryside around Rome, and his idealized landscapes
as settings for biblical and mythological subjects, such as
The Frick Collection’s Sermon on the Mount of 1656, are as
much admired today as they were in his time. His drawings,
too, were highly regarded, and this two-sided sheet is one
of his finest. The recto (or principal side) has been identi-
fied as a very finished preparatory study for Claude’s Land-
scape with David at the Cave of Adullam of 1658 (now in the
National Gallery, London). It represents an episode from
David’s battles with the Philistines when soldiers broke
through enemy lines to fetch the well water their king cov-
eted during a siege; David refused to accept it because his
men risked their lives and instead made an offering of it to
the Lord. With pen lines in ink and brown and gray wash,
Claude captures the windy weather and the somber mood of
this dangerous exploit.
The Frick’s collection of drawings is relatively small, in
the main representing the work of painters seen on our gal-
lery walls, but it is of a distinguished level of quality.


Johannes Vermeer
(Dutch, 1632–1675)
Officer and Laughing Girl, ca. 1657
Oil on canvas, 19 ⅞ x 18 ⅛ in. (50.5 x 46 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest (1911.1.127)

Vermeer’s magic lies in his depiction of light. Here day-

light streams in through the open window at left, glinting
off its faceted panes, illuminating the back wall, and high-
lighting the woman’s smiling face. We see this scene as if
looking over the shoulder of the soldier, his darkened form
looming in the foreground. Although we barely see his fea-
tures, his swaggering pose and the animated response of his
companion allow us to imagine their relationship and their
conversation. As is often the case with the artist, household
furnishings help tell the story: the map of Holland and West
Friesland may represent the officer’s role in guarding the
country and thus the girl. Or, as Dutch pictures of this time
often have a subtext of love, it may imply that his territorial
aspirations extend to conquest of the girl. The subtle tones,
play of colors, and evocation of textures add to the pleasure
of looking at this work.
Vermeer greatly appealed to Frick, who bought three of
his canvases. One of the joys of touring our galleries is to
compare, from one to the next, the painter’s techniques for
rendering the sparkle of light off a glass or the way it reflects
off white cloth.

Meissen Porcelain Manufactory
Modeled by Johann Gottlieb Kirchner
(German, 1706–after 1737)
Great Bustard, 1732
Hard-paste porcelain, 33 x 17 x 11 ¼ in. (83.8 x 43.2 x 28.6 cm)
Gift of Henry H. Arnhold, 2013 (2013.9.01)

Nearly three feet tall, this great bustard delicately leans

its beak back on its wing; an oak tree covered with branches,
leaves, and acorns represents its natural habitat, while on
a practical level it supports the considerable weight of the
ceramic object. This extraordinary creation resulted from
one of the most ambitious commissions in porcelain. Only
two decades after the Meissen manufactory had become the
first European entity to discover how to make true porcelain,
its principal patron, Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony
and King of Poland, ordered 597 statues of mammals and
birds. Augustus was a fanatical collector of Chinese porce-
lain and intended to use his Japanese Palace to showcase
his collections and exhibit the porcelain animals. He owned
live animals, as well as stuffed ones kept in nearby Dresden,
so this commission combined two of his passions. The tech-
nical challenges of making such large works are consid-
erable—as various firing cracks in this work attest—and
fewer than three hundred pieces were produced before their
patron died. The ceramic animals were meant to be painted
in naturalistic colors with oil paints, but the paint has flaked
off from most of the surviving figures, exposing the white
glazed paste. This is the first gift of a promised group of
works from the collection formed by Henry Arnhold and his
parents, which will establish an important German porcelain
presence to complement our French and Chinese holdings.

M E I S S E N P O RC E L A I N M A N U FAC T O RY | 51
Balthazar Lieutaud (French, active ca. 1749–80)
Ferdinand Berthoud (French, 1727–1807)
Philippe Caffiéri (French, 1714–1774)
Longcase Regulator Clock and Barometer, 1767
Oak veneered with various woods, gilt bronze, enamel, and marble
100 x 21 ¾ x 13⅝ in. (254 x 55.2 x 34.6 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest (1915.5.46)

Great clocks are a marriage of scientific precision and

sumptuous decorative art. Advances in the accuracy of time-
keeping through the eighteenth century were celebrated in
such clocks as the present one, which tells both solar and
mean time, the month and the date, and, in its barometer,
temperature and humidity. The clock movement is the work
of Ferdinand Berthoud and, as often happens in decorative
arts, was complemented by the work of others: Balthazar
Lieutaud for the wood case and Philippe Caffiéri for the
mounts. Carefully matched veneers of tulipwood and king-
wood encase the regulator, and gilt-bronze mounts orna-
ment its surface. The mounts form a program about the
passage of time. Around the base, reliefs of the four seasons
follow the major periods of the year. Crowning the whole is
a three-dimensional sculpture of the god Apollo directing his
chariot horses along the course of the sun each day. On the
sides, further stories from Apollo’s myths are shown: Daphne
transformed into a laurel tree and Clytie into a sunflower,
both because of the nymphs’ ill-fated encounters with the god.
This clock, one of the most celebrated of the eighteenth
century, was joined at the Frick in 1999 by the distinguished
collection of clocks and watches formed by Winthrop Kelley
Edey, making the Frick a center for this specialized area of


François-Joseph Belanger (French, 1744–1818)
Jean-François-Thérèse Chalgrin (French, 1739–1811)
Pierre Gouthière (French, 1732–1813)
Jacques Adan (French, ca. 1723–1795)
Side Table, 1781
Marble and gilt bronze, 37 ½ x 81 ⅛ x 27 in. (95.3 x 206.1 x 68.6 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest (1915.5.59)

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’s showstopper portrait

Comtesse d’Haussonville (p. 73) understandably distracts vis-
itors away from this table, which is generally placed be-
neath the painting. Viewers would be well advised to look
down lest they miss one of the greatest and rarest decora-
tive artworks of the eighteenth century. Commissioned by a
leading connoisseur of the period, the Duchesse de Mazarin,
for her hôtel particulier on the Seine in Paris, the table re-
mained unfinished when the duchess died in 1781. It was
originally designed by the architects Belanger and Chalgrin
to harmonize with other works they had created for the
hôtel’s grand salon, such as the chimneypiece meant to face
it. The table is one of a small group of furniture pieces made
from hardstone in France during these years, in this case
shaped by Adan, sculpteur-marbrier du roi. Yet its principal
distinction lies in the quality of its mounts. Gouthière was the
finest ciseleur-doreur (chaser-gilder) at a time when this art
form excelled. Even after the patron’s death, he completed
this decoration, which centers on a bacchante’s head and
her thyrsus (a pinecone-topped staff) twined with ivy. With
extraordinary care and precision and the application of matte
gilding to vary the textures of the metal, he finished these
and other mounts to perfection. So labor intensive was his
work and so lax were his patrons in payment that Gouthière
ended his days in bankruptcy.


Jean-Henri Riesener
(French, 1734–1806)
Secretaire, ca. 1780 (reworked 1790)
Oak veneered with various woods, gilt bronze, leather, and marble,
56 ⅜ x 45 ½ x 17 ¼ in. (143.2 x 115.6 x 43.8 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest (1915.75)

Riesener was one of the great cabinetmakers of the late

eighteenth century. He was appointed the chief cabinet-
maker to the king in 1774 and was Queen Marie Antoinette’s
favorite until her death in 1793. This tall fall-front desk
and its companion commode were made for one of the
queen’s chateaux, possibly Saint-Cloud, in the mid-1780s and
reworked by Riesener in 1790, as his signature and date
attest. The reworking of the secretaire, which simplified and
lightened the piece, was occasioned by the royal family’s
forced residence in the Tuileries Palace in the early years of
the French Revolution.
The extraordinary history of this piece is matched by its
quality. Riesener was a master at combining marquetry with
gilt-bronze mounts and at balancing architectonic symmetry
and pattern with the curving and floral forms that were still
in vogue from the Rococo period. An emphatic trellis pat-
tern in marquetry defines top and bottom panels, and these
are overlaid by lozenge-shaped and rectangular panels deco-
rated with scrolling vines in a more delicate marquetry. Gilt-
bronze decoration crisply defines the edges of the panels and
of the whole and provides the centerpiece of mating doves,
hung from a bow as if it were a separate relief. Precise work-
manship and subtle design connecting bronze to wood make
this an exemplar of the high standards of French furniture.


François Boucher
(French, 1703–1770)
The Four Seasons: Winter, 1755
Oil on canvas, 22 ⅜ x 28 ¾ in. (56.8 x 73 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest (1916.1.15)

One of four paintings from a series titled The Four Seasons,

each showing an amorous couple outdoors, this depiction of
Winter proves that the cold has no effect on this pair’s ardor
for each other. As the man pushes the woman in a sleigh,
he wears a fur hat and gloves, but she is protected only by a
muff and fur-trimmed robe, the better to show off her finery
and form. They are skating on ice, as risky a venture as a
love affair. The curve of the sleigh echoes the ovoid shape of
the painting, which was likely an overdoor, part of a series
intended for interior decoration.
The set was painted for King Louis xv’s mistress
Madame de Pompadour, so this account of love as a year-
round activity was appropriate. She was a keen apprecia-
tor of the arts, particularly decorative arts and sculpture. In
turning to Boucher for these painted decorations, she was
asking the best painter of pastoral scenes and fêtes galantes
to translate these genres into the pursuits of the seasons.
Winter is seldom the time of outdoor lovemaking, and
Boucher’s inventive response is charming.


Jean-Honoré Fragonard
(French, 1732–1806)
The Progress of Love: Love Letters, 1771–72
Oil on canvas, 124 ⅞ x 85 ⅜ in. (317.2 x 216.9 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest (1915.1.47)

Fragonard painted the four canvases in the Progress of Love

series for the chateau of Louveciennes, which belonged to
King Louis xv’s official mistress, Madame du Barry. When
they were rejected, most likely because their style was
deemed unsuitable for the neoclassical building, the artist
must have been devastated. The gorgeous colors, sweeping
movement of forms, and lush landscapes perfumed by a pro-
fusion of flowers make these paintings the quintessence of
Fragonard’s art and the Rococo period.
Henry Frick acquired the four paintings of the series
from J. Pierpont Morgan’s estate, rebuilding his drawing
room to accommodate them and placing them in the se-
quence then thought correct. I enjoy challenging visitors to
order the paintings in their correct narrative sequence. Few
guess that Love Letters was the last of the set as installed in
Louveciennes, showing the couple reading their love letters
and remembering the course of their affair. The man has
literally placed his beloved on a pedestal, while the marble
statue of Venus and Cupid nearby comments on their state
of friendship, symbolized by the heart Venus clutches to
her breast.


Jean-Antoine Houdon
(French, 1741–1828)
The Comtesse du Cayla, 1777
Marble, 21 ¼ in. (54 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest (1916.2.77)

Houdon is one of the greatest sculptor-portraitists of the

eighteenth century. In this bust, he imagines Elisabeth-
Suzanne de Jaucourt (1755–1816) as a bacchante, a fol-
lower of the god Bacchus, in an allusion to her marriage to
François du Baschi, the Comte du Cayla. Grape leaves cling-
ing to her gown signal this identification with the god of wine;
their sharp edges contrast with the soft roses twisted through
her hair. The swept-back tresses, the twist of her neck, and
the animated trail of foliage from the top of her head to the
bottom of her torso give this work a sense of movement, as if
she were running out of doors.
The sculptor’s brilliance comes from his skill at breath-
ing life into his conceit and coaxing textures and shadings
of light from the hard marble. The subtle modulation of her
cheekbones refines the flesh of her face, and the pattern of
drill holes in her pupils gives the illusion of light glinting
off her eyes. In this way, Houdon transcends the static limi-
tations of a bust with its odd but necessary truncation. The
dealer Joseph Duveen enlarged a mantelpiece destined for
the Fragonard room to create a place to display a different
Houdon bust he hoped to sell Frick. Instead, the discerning
collector chose this one, from the dealer Wildenstein and
Gimpel, to grace his room.


Claude Michel Clodion
(French, 1738–1814)
Zephyrus and Flora, 1799
Terracotta, 23 x 10 ¼ x 11 ½ in. (58.4 x 26 x 29.2 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest (1915.2.76)

If Houdon was the preeminent French eighteenth-century

carver of marble, Clodion was his counterpart in modeling
clay. His small terracotta statuettes of mythological figures,
such as satyrs and bacchantes, were immensely popular.
This brilliant group of the god of the west wind with the
goddess of flowers demonstrates why the sculptor’s works
were so desirable. The delicacy of his touch is evident
in the smooth flesh and convincing textures of roses and
cloth. His composition seems effortless. The couple’s long
limbs entwine; they appear to have rushed to embrace, as
Zephyrus’s drape still swirls around him. The lightness of
the figures’ poses and the sense of air surrounding them
make this a perfect example of the Rococo sensibility and
a match for the painted canvases of Fragonard’s Progress of
Love (p. 60).
Intriguingly, Clodion’s statuette dates nearly thirty years
after the Fragonard paintings. Like Houdon, with whom he
roomed when a student in Rome, Clodion modeled many of
his subjects, like this one, on ancient Roman statuary. Yet his
own stylistic sense and the tastes of his clients made it dif-
ficult for him to escape the values of the Rococo even after
the neoclassical style held sway.


Thomas Gainsborough
(English, 1727–1788)
The Mall in St. James’s Park, ca. 1783
Oil on canvas, 47 ½ x 57 ⅞ in. (120.7 x 147 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest (1916.1.62)

Gainsborough is best known for his representations of

British high society, and from the time Henry Clay Frick took
possession of the house in 1914, the Dining Room has dis-
played Gainsborough portraits, such as Mrs. Peter William
Baker and the Hon. Frances Duncombe. The artist is less
known for his landscapes, but here he combines elements
of both genres. Gainsborough lived near St. James’s Park,
where he could easily observe the fashionably dressed stroll-
ers along the Mall, a broad, tree-lined avenue. Art and social
commentary merge in this depiction of women and men ey-
ing one another across the path. The wispy leaves of the trees
echo the gauzy finery of the dresses. One contemporary char-
acterized the scene as if “aflutter like a fan,” referencing the
de rigueur fashion accessory whose back-and-forth move-
ment also recalls the brisk brushwork of the artist painting.
The composition leads our gaze back along the path
where we confront a phalanx of women marching toward us,
appropriately accompanied by an officer. This group draws
the attention of others who must part to make way. This con-
trast of regimented society with less formal knots of people is
mirrored in the straight line of the Mall against the flowing
trees of the park. Even the animals play their part. Frisky
lapdogs prance and bark near their owners while cows partly
hidden to the left—more visible after a recent relighting of
the painting—remind us that the ways of the country are
never far away, even in the center of sophisticated London.


John Constable
(English, 1776–1837)
The White Horse, 1819
Oil on canvas, 51 ¾ x 74 ⅛ in. (131.4 x 188.3 cm)
Purchased by the Frick Collection, 1943 (1943.1.147)

The serenity of this scene recalled for the artist, as it may

for some viewers, days spent pleasurably out of doors. The
image of a tow-horse ferried across the River Stour, near
Dedham, is sited close to where the artist’s father owned
a mill. Constable wrote to the first owner of this canvas:
“Painting is with me but another word for feeling, and I asso-
ciate my ‘careless boyhood’ with all that lies along the banks
of the Stour. Those scenes made me a painter . . .” For this
writer, it summons childhood memories of summers in a dif-
ferent part of England, punting along the Cam, whose still
waters lapped against quiet riverbanks. Constable’s ability to
capture the dreamlike quality of this scene comes from his
close observation of nature. He was one of the first artists to
paint en plein air; the Frick also owns two of his oil sketches
of clouds, which reveal the intensity of his study.
As natural and unaffected as this scene appears, in fact
the painter sketched intensively to prepare for all of his land-
scapes. This was his first large canvas—one of those later
called his six-footers—and he remained proud of it through-
out his life. Its showing at the Royal Academy in 1819 helped
to make his reputation, and it was bought by his friend
Archdeacon John Fisher. Another painting at the Frick,
Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop’s Garden, was executed
from John Fisher’s uncle’s property. Constable later bought
The White Horse back and still owned it at the time of his
death in 1837.


Joseph Mallord William Turner
(English, 1775–1851)
The Harbor of Dieppe, 1826
Oil on canvas, 68 ⅜ x 88 ¾ in. (173.7 x 225.4 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest (1914.1.122)

This ambitious painting ranges from the specificity of the

dock scenes in the foreground to the shimmering haze
of the rising sun behind. Turner traveled often from his
native England to the Continent and filled several sketch-
books with his notations of a tour of France made in
1821, which later served to fill out details in this work.
Vignettes of women washing and a barge filled with house-
hold goods attract our eyes to the right while a fishing boat
gliding into the harbor at left sets the pace for this calm
morning setting. A great colorist, Turner plays the golden
and reddish-brown hues of the boats against the white and
blue of sun and sky. His luminosity, which verges toward
abstraction in later works, was already disconcerting crit-
ics at this midpoint of his career. One writer saw in this “as
vicious a specimen as can well be imagined, of mingled truth
and falsehood.”
The Harbor of Dieppe was one of three major canvases
of northern continental ports that the artist exhibited at the
Royal Academy in London in 1825 and 1826. One of the oth-
ers, Cologne: The Arrival of a Packet-Boat—Evening, usually
faces this painting across the West Gallery. The two paintings
are complementary in the times of day they represent and in
their composition.


Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres
(French, 1780–1867)
Comtesse d’Haussonville, 1845
Oil on canvas, 51 ⅞ x 36 ¼ in. (131.8 x 92.1 cm)
Purchased by The Frick Collection, 1927 (1927.1.81)

Leaning back against the fireplace, Louise-Albertine, wife of

the Vicomte d’Haussonville, fixes us with her gaze. Born to
a literary family—her grandmother was Madame de Staël—
and a serious writer and biographer herself, she seems to
interrogate us. The artist chooses to present her at home,
somewhat casually, seemingly upon her return from the
theater. Opera glasses, evening clothes, and the tossed cash-
mere shawl imply that she has just settled in her boudoir. A
jumble of visiting cards and casually arranged flowers amid
the porcelain and objets on the mantelpiece give a sense that
we are in her intimate quarters. We are led to believe that
this is a hurriedly borrowed moment from her life, but there
was nothing spontaneous about the artist’s preparation for
the painting. Numerous drawings (some in the Frick’s col-
lection) and remarks from his letters reveal the care he took
in creating this masterpiece of portraiture. Ingres’s famously
precise line and the balanced composition of the sitter’s arms
lead us to focus on the penetrating gaze of his subject.

James McNeill Whistler
(American, 1834–1903)
Symphony in Flesh Color and Pink: Portrait
of Mrs. Frances Leyland, 1871–74
Oil on canvas, 77 ⅛ x 40 ¼ in. (195.9 x 102.2 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest (1916.1.133)

Whistler’s commitment to pure line and form and to the

totality of a work of art is apparent here. His title describes
an abstraction of color akin to music, in which the subject’s
pink and white tea gown—which he himself designed—har-
monizes with the wallpaper and carpet of his own salon,
where she stands. The artist also designed the frame to
coordinate with the canvas, his butterfly signature promi-
nent on both. Almond branches protruding from the left echo
floral patterns in her dress and signal the artist’s deep inter-
est in the aesthetic of Japanese prints. Frances, wife of the
Liverpool shipowner Frederick Leyland, was a friend and
patron of the artist. Soon after this portrait was made (it was
never totally finished), Whistler completed the famed Peacock
Room for the Leylands’ London townhouse; his relationship
with Frederick Leyland ended badly when the artist owed his
patron money after his bankruptcy.
Certain artists inspired Henry Frick to collect their work
in depth. Such was the case with Whistler, one of the few
modern artists, and beside Gilbert Stuart the only American,
whose work Frick acquired alongside the old masters in
his last decade. In the 1934 expansion of the house by John
Russell Pope, the Oval Room was conceived as a gallery to
display the four portraits and one seascape by the artist that
had been acquired in addition to a number of etchings.


Francisco de Goya
(Spanish, 1746–1828)
The Forge, ca. 1815–20
Oil on canvas, 71 ½ x 49 ¼ in. (181.6 x 125.1 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest (1914.1.65)

Three men huddle around an anvil in this powerful and

enigmatic painting. One raises a hammer high, one holds
a piece of glowing metal steady to receive the blow, and
the last works a bellows. The intensity of their poses and
expressions reflects the danger hovering around their activ-
ity; the limited palette of blacks, grays, and whites makes the
red-hot center more ominous. The darkened space is delib-
erately indeterminate; patches of floor and wall are laid in
broadly and abstractly so that the scene has a spectral qual-
ity. While the suggestion has been made that this represents
the forge of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire, there is no sign
of this myth in the painting. It is rather intensely physical,
all the more so for Goya’s rough handling of paint. Thick
impasto, sometimes applied with a palette knife, suggests
a dropped knee-sock, gathered shirtsleeve, or the wizened
features of the old man at center. Evidently executed late in
his career, shortly before the expressionistic Black Paintings,
this work combines monumental forms with reductive sim-
plicity. I like to think that it appealed to Frick on an elemental
level, reminding him of the furnaces of the steel mills that
occupied his early professional life.

F R A N C I S C O D E G O YA | 77
Edouard Manet
(French, 1832–1883)
The Bullfight, 1864
Oil on canvas, 18 ⅞ x 42 ⅞ in. (47.9 x 108.9 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest (1914.1.86)

Three brilliantly costumed bullfighters occupy the curved

corner of a ring: one stands imperturbably, one leaps to the
protection of the wall, and one waves his cape at the bull. The
daring composition of this slice of action in a bullring resulted
from criticism of the original painting when it was shown at
the Paris Salon of 1864. One writer described it as “a toreador
of wood killed by a horned rat.” Stung by the journalist’s
words, Manet took the painting back to his atelier and cut it
in two, reworking both sections. The larger lower portion is
now titled The Dead Toreador (and is in the collection of the
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.). What was once a
portion of the upper background became a subject in its own
right, rationalized by adding the bull’s head, as the original
canvas showed the bull with its head lowered.
Its fragmentary nature gives the scene the immediacy
of an odd-angle camera shot in a film, and Manet’s abstract
patches of color and form, so forward thinking in the 1860s,
convey the blur of motion of the audience beyond the wall.
Frick began to collect more progressive modern artists like
Manet and Degas toward the end of his years, displaying them
in his private sitting room alongside El Greco, an old master
much admired by this generation of artists. In fact, it was the
opportunity to study such Spanish masters as Velázquez and
Goya that drew Manet to Spain, where he witnessed his first


Copyright © 2015 The Frick Collection. All rights reserved. No part Cataloging-in-Publication Data
of the contents of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in
Frick Collection.
any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including
Director’s Choice : The Frick Collection / Ian
photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval
system, without permission in writing from The Frick Collection.
pages cm
isbn 978-1-85759-969-5 (alk. paper)
Published in 2015 by
1. Art—New York (State)—New York—Catalogs.
The Frick Collection
2. Frick Collection—Catalogs. i. Wardropper,
1 East 70th Street, New York, NY 10021
Ian, author. ii. Title.
N620.F6A57 2015
in association with
Scala Arts Publishers, Inc.
141 Wooster Street, Suite 4D, New York, NY 10012
The author is grateful to the curatorial staff
at the Frick—Xavier F. Salomon, Susan Grace
Distributed outside The Frick Collection in the book trade by
Galassi, Charlotte Vignon, Aimee Ng, and
Antique Collectors’ Club Distribution
Peggy Iacono—for many helpful comments on
6 West 18th Street, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10011
the text. Michael Bodycomb’s photography,
Michaelyn Mitchell’s and Hilary Becker’s
isbn: 978-1-85759-969-5
editorial suggestions and oversight, and Sarah
Thein’s and Blanca del Castillo’s administrative
For The Frick Collection:
assistance all contributed to this project.
Michaelyn Mitchell, Editor in Chief
Hilary Becker, Assistant Editor

For Scala:
Designed by Inglis Design
Copyedited and proofread by Eugenia Bell

Printed and bound in China

Front cover: Paolo Veronese, The Choice Between

Virtue and Vice (detail), ca. 1565 (p. 35)
Back cover: Giovanni Bellini, St. Francis in the Desert (detail),
ca. 1475–78 (p. 12)
Frontispiece: John Constable, The White Horse
(detail), 1819 (p. 68)