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.
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.
The second phase of a two-year collaborative project to document the New York City art scene at the turn of the 20th century by digitizing exhibition catalogs held at the Frick Art Reference Library and the Brooklyn Museum Libraries and Archives has been completed. The materials are now available to researchers worldwide through Arcade. Phase II of this digital collection, “Documenting the Gilded Age: New York City Exhibitions at the Turn of the 20th Century” has been made possible by a grant from the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO).
Timepieces from The Frick Collection are on display in its Portico Gallery through the beginning of 2014. Precision and Splendor: Clocks and Watches at The Frick Collection highlights eleven clocks and fourteen watches from the 1999 bequest of Winthrop Kellogg Edey, as well as five eighteenth-century French clocks on loan from Horace Wood Brock. Represented in the exhibition are European timepieces from the Renaissance to the early nineteenth century.
Part of my job as an intern at the Frick Art Reference Library this past summer entailed looking through the periodicals collection—more specifically, assessing the condition of old magazines, journals, and newspapers. After examining dozens of publications, I concluded that nothing is more telling of a time or generation than the advertisements, headlines, editorial opinions, and photographs contained within their pages, including the documenting of artists and artworks through text and images.
Pratt Institute’s School of Information and Library Science has received an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant through the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarians Program to train next generation art and museum librarians in the NYARC libraries. M-LEAD-TWO (Museum Library Education and Digitization Technology-Web-Online) is a three year grant that provides scholarship support for 15 diverse MSLIS students (five per year) and a two-semester paid internship program.
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.