ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Travel and Places»
  • Visiting North America

Highlights of the Frick Collection in New York City

Updated on November 19, 2014

Renoir, Stuart, Vermeer and Many More: the Frick's Masterpieces

The Frick Collection is an art museum in Manhattan's Upper East Side, and is world-famous for its collection of Old Master paintings. Included in the collection are works by Goya, El Greco, Rembrandt, Vermeer and Whistler, among many others.

The building itself is worth seeing as well. The collection is housed in the former residence of Pittsburgh magnate Henry Clay Frick, and it bills itself as one of New York City's few remaining Gilded Age mansions. Frick helped choose the layout of the building and where many of the paintings would be hung, so there's a strong sense that you are visiting the man's home when you enter the museum.

The painting here is Jean Honore Fragonard's Surprise, which you can see at the museum. Unfortunately, the museum doesn't allow photography, so all the images you see here are from the Internet, and used without copyright infringement.

UPDATE JANUARY 2014: We recently returned to the Frick to see the visiting painting Girl With the Pearl Earring and other paintings from the Hague at a temporary exhibition. While there we saw that the Frick was displaying some of its finest timepieces in a separate exhibition that will last through March 2014. Below are some details of that display.

Frick vermeer Officer and Laughing Girl
Frick vermeer Officer and Laughing Girl

Vermeer's Officer and Laughing Girl

Find it in the Collection's South Hall

In the museum's south hall is the collection's first true highlight: Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer's Officer and Laughing Girl. This painting from about 1657 is also known as Officer With a Laughing Girl and Officer and a Laughing Girl.

The contrast between the darkness of the officer's back and the brightness of the girl's face really makes the painting seem like real life, and the map on the wall is intricate and beautifully done. The map has been dated to 1621 and has appeared in other Vermeer paintings. For an in-depth analysis of this magnificent work see here.

Nearby is another Vermeer, Girl Interrupted at her Music. It didn't carry quite the power that Officer and a Laughing Girl did, but this painting from 1660-1661 does have an odd distinction. The painting gave Susanna Kaysen the title of her best-selling memoir, ''Girl, Interrupted,'' which later was made into a movie with Wynona Ryder! To see the painting click here.

Books About the Frick Collection

When you do a search for the Frick Collection you get 755 items under the books category alone! There's sure to be a book that covers the angle or aspect of the Frick that most interests you.


The Fragonard Room's Exquisite Beauty

One of the main highlights of the Frick Collection is the Fragonard Room, which contains 11 works by the French artist Jean-Honore Fragonard. The four largest panels were commissioned by Louis XV.

The paintings are exuberant and brightly painted, and really make the room stand out from the others in the collection. Here is a virtual tour of the room from the Frick Collection's website.

The Fragonard Room's History

Frick Collection Dieppe
Frick Collection Dieppe

Turner's Paintings of Dieppe and Cologne

The British Artist Shines at the Frick!

The British artist J.M.W. Turner has never been one of my favorite painters, so I was almost taken aback when I entered the Frick's West Gallery. Turner's The Harbor of Dieppe (shown here) and his Cologne: The Arrival of a Packet-Boat: Evening jump out from all the other paintings in the room because of their luminosity.

The works face each other across the room, and are large -- about 5 1/2 feet by 7 feet. They are well worth seeking out when you visit. For more on the Dieppe painting see here. For the Cologne painting see here.

An Examination of Turner's The Harbor of Dieppe

Ingres' Portrait of Comtesse d'Haussonville

Jean-August-Dominique Ingres' portrait of Louise de Broglie, the countess of d'Haussonville, is located in the north gallery and stands out for the beauty of its subject. In the painting, she appears to be looking at someone who has interrupted her, perhaps considering something that the person has said.

Painted in 1845, the work captures the independence for which the countess was known.

Please watch this video:

Frick Holbein the Younger Sir Thomas More
Frick Holbein the Younger Sir Thomas More

Sir Thomas More by Holbein the Younger

Find it in the Museum's Living Hall

The paintings in the living hall of the museum are arranged just as Henry Clay Frick planned before his death, and a main focal point of the room is an El Greco with paintings by Holbein the Younger on either side of it.

The El Greco is painting of St. Jerome from between 1590 to 1600, and may be familiar to you if you have been to the Metropolitan Museum of Art because there were at least four copies made of the painting. To see the MMA's painting click here.

To the right of the El Greco (as you are facing it) is Holbein's painting of Thomas Cromwell and to the left is Holbein's portrait of Sir Thomas More (seen here). The More painting is what caught my eye the most, because the brightness of the green draperies really sets off his face.

Renoir's la Promenade

Renoir's la Promenade in the East Gallery is just a thrilling painting. It has gorgeous colors, and evokes a wonderful time in society when people dressed up in their finest clothes for a walk in the park. Amazing, this painting from 1875-76 was received very poorly when it was exhibited in 1876, according to the Frick Collection's website.

Here is a video that discusses the painting:

Frick Collection
Frick Collection

Timepieces From the 1500s to 1830: Working Pieces of Art

The Frick is presenting 25 clocks and watches from its collection in a special exhibition called Precision and Splendor that is well worth seeing. The display also includes five clocks on loan that illustrate the majesty of 18th-century France.

The earliest timepiece on display is from 1530, when the first spring-driven clocks were made. Many of the early pieces, were working pieces of art meant to be utilitarian but also to show off the wealth of the user, and they are indeed beautiful. One large wall clock is adorned with dragons statues at the bottom that any lover of fantasy would think were great.

One interesting piece from France contained two clocks -- one for the normal 24-hour time that we are used to and the other for the French Revolution-inspired decimal time, where the day is broken into 10 hours. That must have been very confusing.

The clock shown here is from France, circa 1785–90.

Meissen Porcelain on Display at the Frick - Porcelain Popularized in the 1700s

During our visit to the Frick Collection we concentrated mainly on the paintings, but the museum does have many other objects that are worth a visitor's attention. Many pieces of the furniture on display are considered masterpieces, for instance.

And along the Portico Gallery there are several wall displays of Meissen porcelain, which was developed in the early 1700s near Dresden. The first case shows the earliest pieces, among them red teapots and bowls. Another case contains Japanese-inspired ware from the 1730s. Be sure to check out the original piece of Japanese porcelain from 1700 and contrast it with the Messein knockoff from 1729-1730.

For more information on Meissen porcelain see here.

Or you can purchase this book on the subject off Amazon.

Henry Clay Frick, The Man behind the Collection - Coke Magnate to Art Collector

The museum's music room, which was added after Frick's death, shows a movie about his life and the building of the collection. It is well worth seeing, especially to watch the way the building was first built and how it was expanded after his death by architect John Russell Pope.

Frick (1849-1919) founded a coke company near Pittsburgh and later teamed up with Andrew Carnegie to form the United States Steel company. He later broke with Carnegie and moved to New York, where he bought an entire block along Fifth Avenue across from Central Park to build the mansion that would later become the museum.

Here are some books that offer more on the life of the magnate and art collector.

Have You Ever Toured the Frick Collection?

Frick Collection Gilbert Stuart George Washington
Frick Collection Gilbert Stuart George Washington

Here is a portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart, painted in 1795-96, that hangs in the museum's library. It is unusual in that his jacket is a different color than most of the Washington portraits I've seen by Stuart.

Have you been to see this painting? Or are you planning to go? Please let everyone know by joining in this poll.

Have You Ever Been to the Frick Collection?

See results

Renoir, U.S. Presidents and the National Gallery of Art - Our Other Art Museum Reviews

Renoir and Highlights of the Phillips Collection: A Washington D.C. Family Day Trip
The Phillips Collection opened in 1921 as America's first museum of modern art, and it is still considered one of the premiere places to see such masterpieces.

Highlights of the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum
The Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery are located in the same building, and are a great way to spend an afternoon in Washington D.C.

Highlights of the National Gallery of Art: A Washington Family Day Trip
The National Gallery of Art is located on the National Mall in Washington D.C., and is a great change of pace from the many museums that are nearby.

Fort McHenry, Gettysburg, Nova Scotia and Thomas Edison's Laboratory - Our Other Travel Reviews!

Things to Do in Nova Scotia: Highlights of Our Family Vacation
Nova Scotia offered our family a good mix of what we look for on when we go away on vacation. There's beautiful scenery to hike through, historical and cultu...

Geppi's Entertainment Museum in Baltimore: A Tourist's Guide to Comic Book Heaven!
Geppi's Entertainment Museum is located in Baltimore and is dedicated to all sorts of American pop culture: comic books, television, radio, movies, magazines...

George Washington's Headquarters in Morristown: A New Jersey Family Day Trip
The Ford Mansion in Morristown, New Jersey, served as George Washington's Revolutionary War headquarters during the winter of 1779-1780, close enough to New ...

Gettysburg Battlefield Museum: A Pennsylvania Family Day Trip
The Gettysburg Visitor Center and Museum, located in the Gettysburg National Military Park, is the best place to start any visit to the Civil War battlefield...

National Museum of American History: A Washington D.C. Family Day Trip
The National Museum of American History in the heart of Washington D.C. is one of those places that can really capture the attention of every member of the f...

Thomas Edison's Laboratory: A New Jersey Family Day Trip!
The Thomas Edison laboratory in New Jersey is a great family day trip. Edison was the inventor of the first practical electric bulb, the motion picture camer...

Ford's Theatre, Where Lincoln Was Assassinated: A Washington D.C. Family Day Trip
Ford's Theatre in Washington D.C. was the scene of America's greatest tragedy. On April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln, having successfully guided the c...

Thomas Edison House Glenmont: A New Jersey Family Day Trip!
Thomas Edison, one of America's greatest inventors, lived for more than four decades in a 29-room mansion called Glenmont in the exclusive Llewellyn Park nei...

Highlights of Fort McHenry, Birthplace of the Star-Spangled Banner
Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine is a great place to visit, full of inspiring history, lovely grounds and cool views. It's also a place to ...

The Deserted Village of Feltville: A New Jersey Family Day Trip
The deserted village of Feltville, which was also known as Glenside Park at one time, is in the northwest portion of the Watchung Reservation, a 1,945-acre p...

Gene Colan, Joe Kubert and Steve Ditko: Comic Book Legends!

Artists of the Modern Day

Here are appreciations we have done about two of our favorite comic book artists. Who knows? Maybe someday their work will be considered as classic as Renoir's or Whistler's!

Gene Colan, Comic Book Artist: An Appreciation
Gene Colan developed such a moody, cinematic style during his six decades as a comic book artist that his work was as easily identified as the art of Jack Ki...

Spider-Man Co-Creator Steve Ditko: Strange and Stranger Book Review
Strange and Stranger: the World of Steve Ditko was published in 2008 by Fantagraphics Books. Author Blake Bell traces the life story of this legendary and re...

Joe Kubert, Comic Book Artist: An Appreciation
Comic book artist Joe Kubert died on Aug. 12, 2012, after more than seven decades of drawing and creating comic books. Over those many years he worked on a w...

I hope this review gave you a flavor of what is in the Frick Collection, and maybe encourages you to visit the place. Please feel free to share your thoughts on the Frick Collection, this review or anything else relevant.

Thanks for visiting!

What Do You Think of the Frick Collection?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • goldenrulecomics profile image
      Author

      goldenrulecomics 14 months ago

      That's a good question, Lucy D. Quinn. I know that a museum's registrar is in charge of taking care of the collection, but I'm not 100% sure what `registered' means. Sorry.

    • profile image

      Lucy D. Quinn 15 months ago

      What does it mean when a painting is "registered" at the Frick museum?

    • Monika Weise profile image

      Monika Weise 4 years ago from Indianapolis, IN USA

      What an interesting contrast....a man who both polluted to Earth and yet added beauty to it.

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 4 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      A superb collection. I only wish I could hop on a plane and visit the Frick Collection

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Great lens! Thanks for sharing.

    • LaughingLady LM profile image

      Helen Phillips Cockrell 4 years ago from Virginia

      Beautiful! Wonderful lens. Blessed!

    • PinkCattleya profile image

      Camile 4 years ago from Doha Qatar

      Stunning and beautiful!

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 4 years ago from New Zealand

      Stunning art collection and great presentation here. Blessed.

    • HealthfulMD profile image

      Kirsti A. Dyer 4 years ago from Northern California

      Nicely done.

    • chezchazz profile image

      Chazz 4 years ago from New York

      Great memories of the hours spent at the Frick. Thanks for the reminder.

    • BestRatedStuff profile image

      BestRatedStuff 4 years ago

      Beautiful stuff, would love to visit some day

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      This is a beautiful collection. It looks well worth the visit.

    • digitaltree profile image

      digitaltree 5 years ago

      Amazing, i would have to visit this museum someday.

    • goldenrulecomics profile image
      Author

      goldenrulecomics 5 years ago

      @AlleyCatLane: I agree 100 percent!

    • profile image

      atomicgirl24 5 years ago

      Can you believe it? I've lived in NYC all my life but have never been to the Frick. It's about time I went!

    • profile image

      AlleyCatLane 5 years ago

      I love the Old Masters' paintings. I much prefer them to more modern art.