Decades before Henry Clay Frick (1849–1919) moved to New York City and began filling his mansion with artistic masterpieces, another extraordinarily wealthy collector was populating his own mammoth structure with books and art in exactly the same location. James Lenox (1800–1880) was one of the richest men in New York in the second half of the nineteenth century, and one of its most influential philanthropists and bibliophiles.
The first impression of New York...is one of repulsion at the clangor, disorder, and permanent earthquake conditions. But this time...in the centre of the cyclone, I caught the pulse of the machine, took up the rhythm...and found it simply magnificent. —William James, 1907 (Heller, 113)
Reflecting on the potentially transformative effect that digital technologies hold for the discipline of art history, members of several departments of the Frick Art Reference Library launched the Digital Art History Lab (DAHL) in the fall of 2014 to address the needs of art historians in a digital age. The founding mission of the DAHL is to:
Central Park’s seven hundred-plus acres make up a nearly perfect rectangle with north, south, east, and west ends, smack dab in the middle of the Manhattan street grid. In the city, no one can escape the park. And even in the park, no one can escape the city, apparent in the skylines of 59th Street, Fifth Avenue, Central Park West, and 110th Street.
The American architect John Russell Pope (1874-1937) designed the current home of the Frick Art Reference Library, which opened to the public on January 14, 1935. The walls of its lobby and third-floor vestibule are made of Indiana limestone. As a staff member of the Library, I have wondered about the biomorphic formations present in these walls. Thinking that they are perhaps fossils, I began to explore this prospect.
As an intern at the Frick Art Reference Library, one of my projects was to read Matilda Gay’s diaries which form part of the Walter and Matilda Gay Collection in The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives. While the diaries have been previously excerpted in publications (e.g.
I have always admired my grandmother’s handwriting. It appeals to my inner Luddite who periodically gets the urge to leave the city and head to the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. To me, the tight lettering and flourishing loops of her “f”s and “g”s are time stamps of an older era that say “I was here.” It is from her that I trace my interest in palaeography and in Classics, of which italic script represents an ideal nexus.
On November 17, 1914, Henry Clay Frick and his wife Adelaide moved into their newly constructed residence at 1 East 70th Street in New York, now the home of The Frick Collection.