The cooperation between The Frick Collection in New York and the Mauritshuis in the Hague to produce the marvelous exhibition of paintings on view in the fall of 2013 in the Frick's galleries is not the first time art historical institutions in the two cities have collaborated. The Frick Art Reference Library and the Netherlands Institute for Art History (RKD), located just minutes from the Mauritshuis in the Hague, have significant ties dating back to the founding of the latter institution and continuing through the present day.
Frits Lugt, a prolific scholar and art collector and, with Cornelis Hofstede de Groot, one of the two main founders of RKD, sent his research agent C.W.E. van Haaften to the Frick Art Reference Library during the 1930s to conduct research for his 1938 publication Répertoire des catalogues de ventes publiques, which compiled all known information about auction catalogues held in major repositories in Europe and the United States. During World War II, Lugt came to the Frick to deliver a lecture titled “Old Art Sales Catalogues,” and he was a member of the American Council of Learned Societies committee that convened at the Frick Art Reference Library in 1943 to prepare maps for use by the Allied forces in their effort to avoid collateral damage to world cultural sites.
In the late 1990s, with help from Emilie Gordenker, the director of the Mauritshuis, John Michael Montias chose the Frick Art Reference Library as the repository for his database of documents on Dutch sixteenth- and seventeenth-century art collecting, known as the Montias Database. At his behest, intellectual responsibility for the contents of the database is jointly shared by the two institutions.
In 2003, the RKD completed a major “deduping” process of its photographic collections and identified the Frick Photoarchive as the appropriate repository for the resulting collection of more than thirteen thousand reproductions of Dutch, Flemish, French, and Italian works of art.
Currently, the RKD and the Frick Art Reference Library Photoarchive are collaborating with twelve sister institutions from six countries to launch an international digital photo archive consortium that will realize the common goals of the archives: digitizing the collections and linking all data for maximum accessibility, thereby creating a consolidated resource for art historical research.
The Mauritshuis exhibition represents the latest manifestation of an extremely successful and longstanding art historical connection between these two cities!
Louisa Wood Ruby
Head, Photoarchive Research
Reading room of The Netherlands Institute for Art History