A masterpiece of comic fiction, Cervantes’s Don Quixote (fully titled The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha) enjoyed great popularity from the moment it was published, in two volumes, in 1605 and 1615. Reprints and translations spread across Europe, captivating the continental imagination with the escapades of the knight Don Quixote and his companion, Sancho Panza. The novel’s most celebrated episodes inspired a multitude of paintings, prints, and interiors.
The Frick Collection has one of the most important public collections of European timepieces in the United States, much of it acquired through the 1999 bequest of the New York collector Winthrop Kellogg Edey. This extraordinary gift of thirty-eight watches and clocks dating from the Renaissance to the early nineteenth century covers the art of horology in France, Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. For reasons of space, only part of the collection can be on permanent view in the museum’s galleries. In 2001, many pieces from the Edey collection were featured in The Art of the Timekeeper: Masterpieces from the Winthrop Edey Bequest, an exhibition organized at the Frick by guest curator William J. H. Andrewes. In 2013, visitors had another opportunity to explore the breadth and significance of the Edey collection through an exhibition that presented fourteen watches and eleven clocks from his bequest.
Since antiquity, gemstones (also known as hard or semiprecious stones) have been cut and polished for use in jewelry, in the creation of vases and cups, and in the decoration of palaces. Rediscovered and developed in sixteenth-century Florence, pietra dura (hard stone) objects were collected and sometimes used as political propaganda among the Medici. A sign of wealth, taste, and power, they were also offered as diplomatic gifts or acquired by foreign sovereigns.
Renaissance Maiolica from the Fontana Workshop
Although it was not until 2008 that the first piece of maiolica entered The Frick Collection, it was an extraordinary debut: a large dish painted with a narrative scene, oristoriato, inspired by Marcantonio Raimondi's print after The Judgment of Paris by Raphael. This scene is surrounded by colorful grotesques delicately painted on a white ground, a specialty of the renowned workshop of Orazio Fontana in Urbino, to which the best pieces are usually attributed.
Turkish Taste at the Court of Marie-Antoinette
France has long been fascinated by the Ottoman Empire, and for hundreds of years the taste for turquerie was evident in French fashion, literature, theater and opera, painting, architecture, and interior decoration. Turquerie, a term that came into use in the early nineteenth century, referred to essentially anything produced in the West that evoked or imitated Turkish culture.
In the second episode of “Frick Five,” Curator Aimee Ng interviews Charlotte Vignon, Director of the Musée national de céramique, Sèvres, and previously Curator of Decorative Arts at the Frick. Charlotte answers our five questions—and discusses her love for a certain Bohemian-born poet. (Hint: he once worked as a secretary for Rodin.)
Charlotte Vignon, Curator of Decorative Arts, The Frick Collection
The curator of the special exhibition provides an introduction to the origin and evolution of this colorful and technically complex art form. Focusing on collecting trends during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Vignon explores the historical context in which Sidney R. Knafel assembled his exceptional collection, part of which is a promised gift to The Frick Collection.