While conducting research as an intern at the Frick Art Reference Library, I was reminded that the New York auction house often acts as a stage for dramatic, headline-generating sales. On the evening of April 21, 1915, Gilded Age magnates and their art advisors assembled at the Plaza Hotel for just such a sale (American Art Association). On the block was the masterpiece-studded Blakeslee Collection, available nearly in its entirety to the public as a result of the scandalous suicide of the collector and salesman, Theron J. Blakeslee.
In 1920, Helen Clay Frick traveled to Europe ostensibly as an art tourist, as she was interested in “-an intimate view of town and countryside depicted on these canvases which her father cherished (Knox, 2)." During this trip, she attempted to match destination views with Thomas Gainsborough's Mall in St. James's Park, John Constable's Salisbury Cathedral, and William Turner's Mortlake Terrace (Knox, 2). While she was able to find these familiar scenes, not surprisingly, they were considerably altered from the time of their artistic rendering in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.