000A. THE PRIVATE MUSEUMS - The Frick Collection 2.15.14 JPG #2 



Henry Clay Frick began his adult career as a retail salesman and bookkeeper in a small town outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and became one of the wealthiest and most reviled men in America through his ruthlessness and lack of ethics in business dealings.

His first modest enterprise consisted of the purchase of 50 beehive ovens used to turn Pennsylvania’s limitless supply of coal into coke to run Pittsburgh’s vast iron and steel industries.  The H.C. Frick Coke Company was soon operating over 1000 ovens that produced 80% of Pittsburgh’s coke.  After buying out his partners, Frick expanded his empire into the steel industry, with Andrew Carnegie, railways and real estate.


In 1905, Frick decided to move with his family to New York City.  They lived in one of the Vanderbilt mansions while their Indiana limestone residence was being built.  The magnificent structure located on an entire block of Fifth Avenue between 70th and 71st streets was planned and designed by Thomas Hastings of Carrere and Hastings.


The Frick family lived on the mansion’s second floor while their 27 servants occupied the third.  The main floor, with its silk wall coverings and inlaid hardwood and marble floors, was the repository of Frick’s extraordinary collection of 137 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, tapestries, magnificent French, English, and Italian period furniture, clocks, Ming and Qin dynasty porcelains, enamels, rugs and 18th century silver.   There was no limit to Frick’s acquisitiveness or in his intention to leave his treasures, upon his and his wife’s deaths, “to serve as a public gallery to which the entire public shall forever have access”.  To ensure the survival of his museum, he endowed it with $15 million.


The Frick Collection was opened to the public in 1935.  One of its great attractions is its intimacy and enormous variety of exquisite artifacts.  Rarely can a visitor get so close to some of the world’s finest works of art and see the very brush strokes used by great masters on their wall panels and individual portraits.   Boucher has a room of his own in which his paintings cover rose-colored silk walls; the Fragonard room’s walls are entirely covered with his paintings.   The indoor courtyard is stunning.


Among the Collection’s many amazing highlights are paintings by Tiepolo and Lippi, portraits by Gainsborough, Holbein the Younger, and works by Hals, Reynolds, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Velasquez, El Greco, Goya, Hogarth, and Constable.  In the Whistler room his full-length paintings are stunning.  The art fits perfectly amidst the priceless furniture, enormous vases and fine porcelains.  One is made to feel “at home” in a wonderland of unique beauty. 


Location: 1 East 70th Street, New York, NY 10021   Tel: (212) 288-0700

Tuesday – Saturday: 10:00AM–6:00PM   Sunday: 11:00AM–5:00PM   Closed Mondays

Admission: Adults: $20.  Seniors: $15.  Students: $10.

(includes complimentary audio guide)





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