Construction of the Frick Art Reference Library

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Helen Clay Frick (1888–1984) founded the Frick Art Reference Library in 1920 as a memorial to her father. By the early 1930s the Library had outgrown its building, designed by the architect Thomas Hastings and in use since 1924. The rapid expansion of the Library’s extensive collection of art books, journals, and photographs resulted in an urgent need for more space to house its holdings appropriately and provide for future growth. Further, the trustees feared a lack of visual harmony between Hastings’s older structure, intended to stand as an independent edifice, and Pope’s new construction. The goal, as elucidated by the director, Frederick Mortimer Clapp, was “to produce an integral architectural impression externally — a oneness for the whole Frick property.” It was decided that additional space should be sought for a new building, and adjacent properties at 10 and 12 East 71st Street were purchased to house Pope’s thirteen-story Library composed [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"12901","attributes":{"alt":"archival photo of exterior of the Frick Art Reference Library","class":"media-image","height":"567","style":"width: 230px; height: 303px; margin: 3px; float: left;","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"430"}}]]of Indiana limestone. In this recently acquired pen-and-ink sketch, the artist Vernon Howe Bailey documents the construction of the Library at 10 East 71st Street. The drawing was commissioned by The New York Sun for its daily feature, “Intimate sketches of New York City,” and appeared in the April 23, 1934, issue.


Vernon Howe Bailey (1874–1953) The Addition to the Frick Museum under Construction, 1934 Pen and India ink on Bristol board The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives

Exterior of the Frick Art Reference Library, The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives