The Oval Room — Historical Note
The Oval Room has traditionally been a setting for full-length portraiture. When the museum opened to the public in 1935, this imposing gallery showcased four portraits by Whistler — Harmony in Pink and Grey: Portrait of Lady Meux, Symphony in Flesh Colour and Pink: Portrait of Mrs. Frances Leyland, Arrangement in Brown and Black: Portrait of Miss Rosa Corder, and Arrangement in Black and Gold: Comte Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac — as well as Velázquez’s Portrait of King Philip IV of Spain, which hung in the central position. Over the years, the Oval Room has also featured full-length portraits by Van Dyck and Gainsborough.
Designed by architect John Russell Pope, the Oval Room was one of four new spaces added to the Collection during the renovation of 1931–35. The East Gallery, Music Room, Garden Court, and Oval Room dramatically increased the size of the building and provided additional space for works of art that had been acquired in the decades following Henry Clay Frick’s death in 1919. The style and scale of these rooms echo the grand classicism of Mr. Frick’s West Gallery.