Monday, June 16, 2008

1 East 70th Street

1 East 70th Street, to any aficionado of the New York layout is simply a splendid address. As many a reader here will know it was a home, now a Museum, and a reminder of what Fifth Avenue used to look like. It is The Frick. A timeless gift of Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919), the Pittsburgh coke and steel industrialist.

It is a uniquely American attribute; a curse to some, life to others, that Fifth Avenue in New York looks almost completely different today from 100 years ago. Financial concerns, a growing population and the introduction of the Internal Revenue Service brought down a long avenue of great houses. But the Frick Collection remains and it is has been and will always be my favorite museum in New York City.

I admire that the many masterpieces and rooms are shown as they were when this was a private home. For such an important place, I love it all the more because so many of my visits have been almost always solitary, something I've never understood. The Frick is for some reason, or on purpose, been under the radar of must sees in New York. The collection, aside from the building itself is worth many return visits. It must be that the entrance to Central Park is two blocks north and the Metropolitan just a few blocks further,that tourists just overlook this treasure.

Construction of the building began in 1913 at the then competitive price of of five million dollars. Remember, the Astor's and Rockefeller's were neighbors, and was executed by the famous firm of Carrère and Hastings. Mr. Frick died in 1919. In his will, he left the house and all of the works of art in it together with the furnishings (“subject to occupancy by Mrs. Frick during her lifetime”) to become a gallery called The Frick Collection. He provided an endowment of $15,000,000 to be used for the maintenance of the Collection and for improvements and additions

The mindbogglingly collection of masterpieces range from Rembrandt and Hans Holbein the Younger to Monet. Other than paintings, the museum has sculptures, drawings, pieces of furniture, and porcelain. This was a home.

The Frick and its governing board hold a few fund raising events throughout the year that show that while there might not be the original 400 left around town to show up, a new generation has risen to the occasion to keep this jewel in pristine shape. Here are few pictures that conjure up the dowager Mrs. Astor's crowd at a recent event. These pictures come from last year's Young Member's Ball, courtesy of New York Social Diary.

To our gratitude, The Frick sits quietly and elegantly right on Fifth and I think many people just don't realize what they are looking upon. One of its true treasures is a particular room and one of my favorite places, "The Fragonard Room," commissioned by Madame de Barry. It is very French; a love of which I gained from my very Irish grandmother. Here is a video from Monumental Adventure of the Museum that tells the whole story just right. Next time your in New York City don't miss this jewel of La Grande Pomme . Here is the video, please enjoy it. The Frick.

1 comment:

Be the change..... said...

this is my favorite museum as well! I always find museums that are more of a 'home' as a better environment for art than a big white box. I finally was able to see the 'Isabella Stewart Gardner museum' in Boston this past weekend -magnificent! I plan on writing about it soon on my blog