Letter from the Director: Spring/Summer 2015

This letter is reprinted from the Spring/Summer 2015 issue of the Members’ Magazine.

photo of gallery hall with French porcelain behind cabinet


This summer, the Frick offers a variety of special exhibitions that I hope will prompt you to visit our galleries. Frederic Leighton’s striking Flaming June, from the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico, hangs in the Oval Room, the first time in thirty-five years that the painting has been shown in New York. The iconic work beautifully complements the Frick’s four full-length portraits by James McNeill Whistler, Leighton’s contemporary.

In the Cabinet Gallery, we present twelve landscapes from our superb but rarely seen collection of works on paper. Among these is the recently acquired View of Dieppe Harbor by Antoine Vollon.

From Sèvres to Fifth Avenue: French Porcelain at The Frick Collection (above) highlights spectacular examples of Sèvres eighteenth-century porcelain purchased by Henry Clay Frick between 1916 and 1918, along with recent acquisitions and a few rarely displayed pieces. Traditionally, these objects have been shown throughout the house, where they complement paintings by Fragonard and other rococo artists. For the first time, they can be viewed together in the Portico Gallery, allowing for fresh comparisons and interesting juxtapositions. Seen in natural light with the Fifth Avenue Garden as a backdrop, they are marvelous to behold.

book cover about decorative arts depicting colorful porcelain ship on gold baseThe Frick’s collection of Sèvres porcelain is just a small part of its extensive holdings of decorative arts, along with furniture, ceramics, enamels, clocks and watches, textiles, and silver. The special atmosphere of our galleries has as much to do with these objects as it does with the Old Master paintings that line the walls. To celebrate these exquisite works, we offer two new publications. The Frick Collection: Decorative Arts Handbook is the first book devoted to the museum’s outstanding collection of decorative arts. Written by Curator Charlotte Vignon, it offers a brilliant introduction to the collection as a whole, as well as detailed descriptions and stunning new photographs.

book cover, Limoges Enamels, depicting close up of man's face on blue backgroundThe second book, which I wrote with Associate Conservator Julia Day, focuses on the museum’s luminous French enamels, the majority of which were acquired by Mr. Frick in 1916 from J. P. Morgan’s estate. Limoges Enamels in The Frick Collection includes color photography of all forty-eight Limoges pieces in the collection, in addition to providing each object’s provenance and explanations about the techniques used to create these sixteenth- and early-seventeenth-century works. Look for it in the Museum Shop later this summer.

Our important holdings in art of the French Renaissance — including enamels and furniture — have been extended by the acquisition of an exceedingly rare Saint-Porchaire ewer, recently attributed to the famed sixteenth-century ceramicist Bernard Palissy.

I wish you a pleasant and leisurely summer, during which time I invite you to tour the galleries, attend one of our many programs, or study in the Frick Art Reference Library.

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