The West Gallery Ś Historical Note
The West Gallery was planned from the start as an imposing setting for a major portion of the Collection, recalling the gallery of Hertford House (home of The Wallace Collection), those of English country houses, and ultimately the royal salons of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. By 1913 Mr. Frick’s collection had grown so large that it required such a picture gallery; neither of his other residences, Clayton in Pittsburgh and his summer home, Eagle Rock, at Pride’s Crossing, Massachusetts, provided such space, although his temporary residence in New York at 640 Fifth Avenue had. The grand scale of the West Gallery (96 x 33 feet) has permitted a fascinating juxtaposition of works of art in the manner Mr. Frick preferred. In the remodeling of the original house in the 1930s, the appearance of the West Gallery was affected by the addition of the large arched portals at either end — one at the entrance to the Enamels Room replacing a pair of doors and one at the east end replacing a large fireplace. When van Eyck’s Virgin and Child, with Saints and Donor was first placed on exhibition, it was dramatically framed by this arched entrance to the Enamels Room. But following the consistent policy of rehanging paintings in the galleries, this same arch now provides an even more harmonious setting for Piero della Francesca’s large painting St. John the Evangelist.
Except for the modern sofas, all the furniture in this room, which was purchased between 1915 and 1918, dates at least in part from the French and Italian Renaissance. The eight elaborately carved walnut cassoni served as storage chests. The large center table bears the arms of the Giovanelli family of Milan and Venice. The eight folding armchairs, of a type called Savonarola chairs, recall a form of backless seating produced in antiquity. The three seventeenth-century Persian rugs with floral decoration, shown above were woven on the looms of Herat, in present-day Afghanistan.
The main picture gallery of the house, the West Gallery followed more closely the stylistic traditions of the architectural exterior of the house as we see it today; the illustration here shows the arrangement of furniture and pictures as it was about 1931, the time of Mrs. Frick's death.