Frick Collection Announces Launch of Acquisitions Fund

Portrait of the Comtesse d’Haussonville by Ingres

The Frick’s Board of Trustees is pleased to introduce its Acquisitions Fund, established especially to help the museum continue to purchase objects that enhance and complement its holdings for the enjoyment of the public. Acquisitions have a long history at the Frick. Soon after the museum opened in 1935, Henry Clay Frick’s daughter Helen wrote to members of the museum’s acquisitions committee that “to cease buying works of art unless compelled to do so for financial reasons would be a great detriment to The Frick Collection,” and that it “was the intent of the Founder that great works of art should be added from time to time…” Thanks to this far-sighted view, the permanent collection has nearly doubled since Mr. Frick’s death through donations of art from private collections and select purchases including well-known and cherished works such as Ingres’s Comtesse d’Haussonville, Memling’s Portrait of a Man, Antico’s Hercules, Constable’s White Horse, and Houdon’s Diana the Huntress.

A criterion for acquisitions made since the passing of founder Henry Clay Frick (1849–1919) has been that they should resonate with his aesthetic preferences, reflecting the artists, schools, and subject-matter to which he was drawn as a collector. Works acquired by the institution must also match in quality those already in the collection. During the institution’s first decades, funds for acquisition by purchase were drawn from the endowment, a practice long-since dropped. Since the 1960s, it has more often been the case that works entered the collection through gift and donations made by Board members and others. With this new fund, the Frick hopes to inspire members of the public who wish to participate in the development of the collection to do so through financial support designated for this purpose. 

Sculpture and Decorative Arts Additions Through Recent Purchases

In recent years, the institution has purchased remarkable works of quality in the areas of decorative arts and sculpture. Among these additions are Joseph Chinard’s 1809 bust of Louis-Étienne Vincent-Marniola. Typically installed in the East Gallery, this rare and recently discovered work in terracotta has become a favorite of visitors.  It also bears a wonderful historic connection to the Frick’s portrait of the Comtess Daru by Jacques-Louis David, purchased by the Frick’s Trustees in 1937.

The ceramic arts—represented in the galleries through Henry Clay Frick’s substantial early holdings by the French Royal Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory as well as Chinese porcelain—have been wonderfully amplified by recent acquisitions. Five years ago, the Frick purchased a Sèvres porcelain Vase-Japon, which inspired new research and was a highlight of a recent exhibition. Two years ago, a rare French Renaissance ewer by Saint-Porchaire was added to the institution’s holdings with the help of Trustee Sidney R. Knafel. The ewer has a prestigious Rothschild provenance, and new research connects it to the famed ceramicist Bernard Palissy. The ewer is now on view in the Enamels Room alongside an example of Saint-Porchaire purchased one hundred years ago by the Frick’s founder. Finally, an extraordinary pair of candelabra by Pierre Gouthière, chaser-gilder to the French royal court, entered the collection earlier this year through the generosity of Knafel. This work joins Henry Clay Frick’s iconic table by Gouthière in a major fall 2016 exhibition and catalogue on the artist.

Comments Director Ian Wardropper, “Sid Knafel helped us to acquire two of our most important recent acquisitions of decorative arts. Convinced that the Frick should continue to add great works of art to its holdings, he has also planted the seeds for this new acquisition fund by encouraging its establishment and making an initial gift. We hope that his generous and far-sighted gesture will inspire others to help us build the fund.” To make a gift to the Acquisitions Fund, members of the public may contact Genevra Le Voci at 212.547.6871, or make a gift online at or mail a check to Acquisitions Fund, The Frick Collection, 1 East 70th Street, New York, NY 10021.


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