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.
From the pyramids of Egypt to the castles of the Loire Valley, Henry Clay Frick and his family took some enviable vacations in their time. They spared no expense in their travels and enjoyed trips that often lasted for months on end. The Archives of The Frick Collection and Frick Art Reference Library recently posted photograph albums from three of these trips in the Frick Digital Image Archive. The albums document travels in 1905, 1909, and 1912, and include views of France, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland. They were scanned by the Library’s Digital Imaging Lab, both as a means to capture and preserve their content, and as a way of providing greater access to these unique resources.
As the Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA) intern for 2012, I am fortunate to be spending time at all three New York Art Resources Consortium (NYARC) libraries. The Frick Art Reference Library and those of the Brooklyn Museum and The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) share many attributes. One of these is the important role that collecting expeditions played in increasing the holdings of each institution. Interestingly, in the early twentieth century these libraries supported major expeditions that were led by women. These bold travelers came from a variety of backgrounds and socioeconomic classes and were ahead of their time.