This is the one room at Frick Madison that approaches the idea of a Kunstkammer—that is, a variety of different kinds of objects displayed together in one gallery. The Frick’s rich holdings in the decorative arts include significant collections of Limoges enamels, Saint-Porchaire ware, maiolica, furniture, and clocks. Each of these areas is represented in this room by a selection of exemplary objects.
Henry Clay Frick acquired an important group of sixteenth-century enamels made in Limoges, France, from the collection of John Pierpont Morgan. This refined and highly specialized art form was well suited to the production of luxury objects; for example, the saltcellars exhibited here were made at a time when spices like salt were extremely expensive and marked the status of a wealthy household. A pair of saltcellars depicting the myth of Orpheus is signed by Suzanne de Court, who is the only known female head of an enamels workshop active in Limoges.
The carved wood dressoir is a tour de force of French furniture, made to store the kinds of luxury tableware represented by the ewers and dishes displayed in this room. From the captivating animal forms of French ceramics known as Saint-Porchaire ware, to the highly refined gilt metalwork of European watches and clocks, decorative arts objects in the Frick’s collection reward close looking. Let your eye wander over the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century clocks in this room and across the suite of galleries to the room of early Italian Renaissance gold grounds. Those objects were created centuries earlier for very different purposes but are linked to the gilt timepieces by the precious metal that bestows on all of them a sense of value, prestige, and delight.