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The Frick Collection Sample Assignment

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The Frick Collection

My Exhibition Critique is based on a virtual tour to the Frick Collection located in what used to be the home (mansion) of Henry Clay Frick, on Fifth Ave., in Manhattan, New York. This museum was established in 1935, by Henry Frick. The fact that this was once someone’s home is the most fascinating part to me!

Henry Clay Frick was a wealthy giant in the steel and coke manufacturing industry. He was known as a ruthless business man with a very strong eye for art of all sorts. Frick was born in December 19, 1849 and died just weeks before his 70th birthday in 1919. Frick lived in Pennsylvania until 1905. He attended Otterbein College, but did not graduate. At the age of 21, he and two cousins along with a friend started a small business called Frick Coke Company, using a beehive oven to turn coal into coke to be used in steel manufacturing, from that venture, he made a promise to himself to become a millionaire by the time he reached thirty years old. He bought out the partnership and renamed the company H.C. Frick & Company. While having hands in many types of businesses, he managed to continue collecting art, which was his all-time passion. Frick moved his family into the Frick Mansion in 1905. The Frick Manhattan home was built with the intent to someday become a museum, which took place after his death in 1935.

Edgar Munhall was the first curator of the Frick Collection, and he had just as keen of an eye for art as Henry Clay Frick. He was the art overseer of the Frick Collection for over 35 years. Nothing came nor departed that museum without his knowledge.

The Frick Collection img1

The Frick Collection Floorplan

I can only imagine the serenity of taking an actual tour of this museum, because the virtual tour was absolutely breathtaking. There are many rooms in this museum, about 22 to be exact, and each one has their own sense of ambiance. The Seventieth Street Garden which isn’t just your everyday garden, it was intended for viewing, and not to be entered. The Garden has a beautiful view of flowers, where it seems like they could grow impeccable leaves and petals on a daily basis. It looks like a painting itself. Once approaching the Entrance Hall, it’s a large room with an oval shaped desk, subtle lighting, and not much on the walls, which is probably where the staff would provide information to patrons entering the museum.

The tranquility of this building makes you feel as though you have entered someone’s home. Each room is titled and beautifully decorated with tapestry covered chairs, intricately painted pieces on the walls, furniture pieces ranging from the 4th to the mid-twentieth century, and they all tie in to tell Frick’s story. Every picture in this museum was framed in a beautifully designed, gold tone frame, which seeped royalty and passion. One of my favorite rooms to visit was the Enamels Room, which was originally Mr. Frick’s study. The room was named after the vast collection of Limoges enamels which were from the 15th through the early 17th centuries. This room holds some of the finest collections in the United States. There is a double-tiered Triptych with scenes from the passion of Christ that is so realistic that it makes you feel as though you were a part of the scene. It gave me chills! Each piece of art housed in this museum has a story, whether it’s a cup, a plate, a skewer, a chair or a painting, it spoke to me. Henry Frick had a passion for beautiful women, and there’s even a room for that! The Fragonard Room, (which is dedicated to Jean-Honore’ Fragonard) is beautifully decorated with painted scenes of work by Fragonard on the walls and in tapestry on chairs from The Progress of Love series which includes, works called Love Pursuing a Dove, Love the Avenger, Love the Jester and quite a few more. There are over 1,100 pieces of work in the Frick Collection.

In this museum, you can walk into each room and literally lose yourself in thought as to what was taking place during this particular era. I feel that the set-up of this museum is created in a way as to make you really feel at home. Although Mr. Frick seemed to live a hectic and complicated life with the various takes on business throughout his career, once you’ve entered the doors of the Frick Collection, you leave the cares and worries on the other side, because from the entrance hall to the exit, there is an inviting and homely feeling.

To physically tour this museum in its’ full capacity would take many hours. It was awesome!



  1. “Henry Clay Frick – People of Pennsylvania” (
  2. Krause, Paul. The Battle for Homestead, 1890-1892: Politics, Culture, and Steel. Pittsburgh, Pa.: Universit of Pittsburgh Press, 1992

The Frick Collection

1. The artwork is in good condition you can clearly see the lines in the work up close as they go vertically or horizontally through the piece.

2. The work is installed in the West Gallery mounted on a mahogany panel and its dimensions are (142.6 x 112.4 cm). The piece relied on the natural light of the sky lights but was augmented by track lighting.

3. The function of this piece is religious. It portrays the death of Christ being taken down from the cross with Mary by his side. I think this piece was originally meant to be seen inside an old Church probably hung up with its own personal light hung over it to brighten up the picture. I think the intended point of view is the man in red who is supposed to be the disciple Joseph because he is who i see first and his eyes lead me right to Christ’s body.

4. The medium of the work is oil on linen. I think the artist used this because he was able to achieve subtle but vibrant colors. I think the artist use of this medium instead of water based tempera affects the artists choices because how he uses the colors for the clothing and then has the background very subtle.

5. Mary Magdalon all the way to the right holds the nails from Christ’s cross. Next to her to the left is Nicodemus who holds his feet and the disciple Joseph on the ladder holds his body. On the very far left is St. John supporting the sad virgin. Most importantly in the foreground is a broken skull with scattered bones to add to the dramatics of the composition. Above behind the scene is the darkness that shows the worlds reaction of Christ death is shown to be lifting showing a clear sky. I think the focal point of this piece is obviously Christ . i think the importance of having the disciple joseph wearing that vibrant color red and up on the ladder is because it leads my eyes as a viewer to him and he is faced towards christ so it leads to that point and christ body leads down to grieving mary.

6. I believe the artist is fully interested both realistic and naturalistic depictions. The artist’s interest in human figures is very accurate

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