Letter from the Director: Fall 2017

This letter is reprinted from the Fall 2017 issue of the Members’ Magazine.

oil painting depicting man with mustache and long hair in oval frame


In 1904, Henry Clay Frick acquired a striking self-portrait by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. Over the years, Frick assembled a formidable collection of Spanish paintings, including master works by Velázquez, Goya, and El Greco. The self-portrait, painted early in the artist’s career and one of only two known, descended in the Frick family until 2014, when Trustee Mrs. Henry Clay Frick II generously gave it to the museum. To commemorate the 400th anniversary of Murillo’s birth, we have brought together the two existing self-portraits, as well as complementary oils and engravings, to provide new insight into the creative process of one of the greatest artists of Spain’s Golden Age.

We will continue our focus on Spanish painting next year, when an exhibition of works by the seventeenth-century Sevillian artist Francisco de Zurbarán opens in February. Zurbarán’s “Jacob and His Twelve Sons”: Paintings from Auckland Castle marks the first time the series has traveled to the United States. A number of programs have been planned to complement both presentations, including four lectures given by Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator Xavier F. Salomon, one devoted to each of the four great Spanish painters represented in the museum’s permanent collection.

This fall we also feature two recently restored canvases by the celebrated Italian Renaissance artist Paolo Veronese—St. Jerome in the Wilderness and St. Agatha Visited in Prison by St. Peter. The paintings were commissioned in 1566 for a small chapel on Murano, an island in the Venetian Lagoon, and have never been seen outside Italy. The exhibition provides New York audiences the opportunity to discover these little-known but important works and compare them with the two monumental Veronese canvases painted about the same time and purchased in 1912 by Mr. Frick.

In the Portico Gallery, Fired by Passion continues through August. This installation of forty objects produced by the Du Paquier manufactory in Vienna was inspired by the fourteen pieces of Du Paquier porcelain generously given to the Frick last year by Paul Sullivan and Trustee Melinda Martin Sullivan. In contrast to Meissen porcelain—which was the focus of last year’s Portico Gallery installation—Du Paquier has a different appeal characterized by a vivid palette, exuberant painted forms, and inventive shapes.

Whether you visit the Frick to see our acclaimed exhibitions, study in the library, attend concerts or lectures, or simply to enjoy a favorite work in the serenity of the galleries, I hope you will consider making a year-end gift to the Annual Fund. As he did last year, Trustee Stephen A. Schwarzman has generously agreed to match—dollar for dollar—all Annual Fund gifts made between November 1 and December 31, making this the perfect time to double your gift’s impact. Unrestricted gifts from our loyal members and friends are vital to our continuing work, and your contribution helps us to preserve the Frick experience that you and so many others have come to love. Thank you so much for your ongoing support.

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (Spanish, 1617–1682), Self-Portrait, ca. 1650−55. Oil on canvas, 42 1/8 x 30 1/2 in. (107 x 77.5 cm). The Frick Collection, New York; gift of Dr. and Mrs. Henry Clay Frick II, 2014

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