Overseas Connections

Beginning in the 1920s, the Frick Art Reference Library engaged overseas representatives to secure books and photographs. Clotilde Brière and Lea Danesi Tolnay acquired auction, sales, and exhibition catalogues, periodicals, monographs, and photographs from Europe, enriching the Library’s collection.  Photographer Mario Sansoni was hired to photograph paintings, monuments, and frescoes, many of which had no previous visual record.

During World War II, Helen Clay Frick and her staff remained in contact with Sansoni, Brière, and Tolnay, whose letters described their personal experiences and hardships in war-torn France and Italy. Despite the difficulties of war, all attempted to continue work on behalf of the Library, and their dedication is evident in their letters to Miss Frick. Once the war was over, all three resumed their work, purchasing photographs and books, as well as photographing monuments and works of art.

In addition to his work for the Library, Mario Sansoni assisted the Monuments Men by photographing damaged works of art in Italy.

  • Guido Sansoni, son of photographer Mario Sansoni, 1938, The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Photographs. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives.

  • Letter from Frederick Hartt, Monuments Man, to the Library, relaying news of photographer Mario Sansoni and requesting funds to produce photos of the devastated frescoes in the Camposanto in Pisa, Italy. 

    Frederick Hartt letter to Ethelwyn Manning, November 2, 1944, Frick Art Reference Library Central Correspondence. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives.

  • Letter from Frederick Hartt, Monuments Man, to the Library, relaying news of photographer Mario Sansoni and requesting funds to produce photos of the devastated frescoes in the Camposanto in Pisa, Italy. Page 2. 

    Frederick Hartt letter to Ethelwyn Manning, November 2, 1944, Frick Art Reference Library Central Correspondence. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives.

  • Letter from Mario Sansoni describing the terrible wartime conditions in Italy and his desire to assist the Allied Office for the Protection of Monuments.

    Mario Sansoni letter to Helen Clay Frick, Janary 10, 1945, Helen Clay Frick Correspondence - Sansoni Family.

  • Translation of letter from Mario Sansoni describing the terrible wartime conditions in Italy and his desire to assist the Allied Office for the Protection of Monuments. 

    Mario Sansoni letter to Helen Clay Frick, Janary 10, 1945, Helen Clay Frick Correspondence - Sansoni Family. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives.

  • Translation of letter from Mario Sansoni describing the terrible wartime conditions in Italy and his desire to assist the Allied Office for the Protection of Monuments. Page 2.

    Mario Sansoni letter to Helen Clay Frick, Janary 10, 1945, Helen Clay Frick Correspondence - Sansoni Family. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives.

  • Translation of letter from Mario Sansoni describing the terrible wartime conditions in Italy and his desire to assist the Allied Office for the Protection of Monuments. Page 3. 

    Mario Sansoni letter to Helen Clay Frick, Janary 10, 1945, Helen Clay Frick Correspondence - Sansoni Family. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives.

  • Clotilde Brière in France, June 1945, Helen Clay Frick Papers, Series II: Correspondence. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives.

  • Translation of letter from Clotilde Brière describing the hardships of living in wartime France.

    Clotilde Brière letter to Helen Clay Frick, December 2, 1945. The Frick Art Reference Library Scrapbook. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives.

  • Translation of letter from Clotilde Brière describing the hardships of living in wartime France. Page 2.

    Clotilde Brière letter to Helen Clay Frick, December 2, 1945. The Frick Art Reference Library Scrapbook. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives.

  • Lea Danesi Tolnay at the Chiesetta di San Giorgio, Tesido, Italy, ca. 1931, Helen Clay Frick Correspondence. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives.

  • Letter from Lea Danesi Tolnay to Helen Clay Frick describing the suffering in Rome during wartime, September 6, 1944, Helen Clay Frick Correspondence. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives.

  • Letter from Lea Danesi Tolnay to Helen Clay Frick describing the suffering in Rome during wartime, September 6, 1944, Helen Clay Frick Correspondence. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives. Page 2.