Mauritshuis and The Frick Collection - Stories about the Frick


Frick as a Collector

Frick did not initially spend huge sums on art. He mainly purchased work by local artists and French painters of the Barbizon School. It was only after he moved to New York in his fifties that Frick became active on the international art market, buying masterpieces by Titian, Holbein and Rembrandt. From 1913, he also acquired furniture and decorative objects for his new house on Fifth Avenue. He continued to make purchases until shortly before his death. Vermeer’s
Mistress and Maid was his last acquisition.

Looking to Europe

Frick’s taste was rather traditional. Like the British nobility, he preferred majestic portraits and inspiring landscapes. He was fond of English artists, such as Constable and Gainsborough, and Dutch masters like Van Ruisdael and Rembrandt, who were also popular in England.

He was impressed by The Wallace Collection in London. It is possible that this is where the seed was planted for Frick to build his own first-class private collection and open his house as a museum.


Frick stipulated that his house and collection should become a museum after his death. His will would later specify that Frick’s own purchases must not leave the house. But thanks to a large sum of money that Frick bequeathed for this purpose, The Frick Collection continued to grow after his death. Indeed, the collection has grown by thirty per cent since that time. These later acquisitions are of a comparable quality and some, such as
Ingres’s Portrait of the Comtesse d’Houssonville, are considered icons of the museum.

Helen Clay Frick (1888-1984)

After the death of her father, Frick’s daughter Helen played an important role at The Frick Collection. She devoted considerable time to art history, becoming an art connoisseur in the process. She was the driving force behind many of the museum’s acquisitions. In 1920 she founded the Frick Art Reference Library in memory of her father. The library is an art historical research centre adjoining the museum, of which she was a director for sixty-four years.

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