The Frick Collection: The World of Old Masters and European Decorative Arts

April 8, 2022

The Frick Collection is a museum that offers the opulence of European paintings and decorative art, as well as the neoclassical glamour of American Industrialism.

The Frick Collection in New York contains ornamental items and works of European art that relate to Europe’s early creative style. The museum features a collection of delicate and historical artifacts important to Europe’s history and culture. In addition to this, the museum is well-known for its collection of master artists’ works. The Frick collection’s on-display products would enthrall anyone who wishes to escape the bustling atmosphere of New York City for a moment or be taken back in time.

Second floor of the Frick Collection. Photo by Ying Cao

The Frick Collection Legacy

From its namesake, the Frick Collection started from the collection of Henry Clay Frick, who shared his enthusiasm for “sculptures, paintings, and decorative arts” with the public.  He started showcasing his collection in the confines of his home. Soon the museum was created in 1935—[Source:  The Frick Collection About]. Henry Clay Frick is a businessman known as a pioneer in the U.S Steel industry. He is the former chairman of Carnegie Steel Company and had also founded the Frick and Company Coke manufacturing company.  

Frick’s daughter Helen created the Frick Art Reference Library, which is now a “top art history research center.” It has been free of admission to the public since 1920 and is a significant part of the museum [Source:  The Frick Collection About].

The Frick family is from Pittsburgh, and they decided to reside in New York in 1905. Since then, the museum has moved to varied locations across New York.  Before Frick died, he made his house a makeshift public museum. When his wife passed away, their daughter formally transitioned the place into a museum which expanded gradually. In March 2021, the museum temporarily moved to Madison Avenue and was currently situated at a building designed by Marcel Breuer while the museum is undergoing its biggest renovation. 

Vases in the Frick Collection with The Meeting from the Progress of Love painted by Jean Honore Fragonard. Photo by Ying Cao

The Frick Collection’s Diversified Art and Unified Aesthetic

Juxtaposition is well-executed by The Frick Collection. It presents artworks in chronological order and based on the region it was from. Its multi-floor built renders upfront segregation of the museum’s art pieces. The base floor showcases paintings and sculptures from art masters such as Rembrandt, Whistler, Goya, and Whistler. 

The second floor includes works crafted in Northern Europe. It also highlights Rembrandt’s artistry in one room. There are also eight portraits made by Van Dyck that are shown in one area, which was done for the first time.

You can see Italian and Spanish Art upon reaching the subsequent floor. It emphasizes Renaissance and Venetian artworks. Expect also to see religious artists’ gold-ground panels that are rare and elaborate. Meanwhile, works with French and British flair are on display on the fourth floor. You can see a dedicated space for French masters and an Impressionist artwork-filled gallery [Source: The Frick Collection Madison].

Although the museum has different sets of artworks, the sense of nostalgia is evident across its galleries. It transports visitors back to the artwork’s era and provides a short escape to the present.

The Frick Collection’s Crowning Jewels

Jean Honore Fragonard’s “The Progress of Love” is an interesting take on a romantic pursuit in the late 1700s. It’s a progressive type of painting that provides a peek at the process of courtship to marriage. The masterpiece renders symbolism by using elements such as sculptures and animals that represent deep-seethed meanings like emotional trust.

The “St. Francis in the Dessert” was made by painter Giovanni Bellini, a famous Renaissance painting in the United States. It ranked number 2 in the 100 best paintings in the New York list of Time Out, a reputable entity in the fields of global media and hospitality industry [Source: Time Out].

Apart from the above pieces, you should see works by Thomas Gainsborough at the museum. His seven portrait paintings are among the pieces that are in retrospect of the roughly 100 years streak of portraiture in Britain [Source: The Frick Collection Madison]. Gainsborough is England’s leading portrait painter in the late 18th century. Gainsborough utilizes rich color schemes applied through a light feathery brush technique that did his works in demand back then. He painted portraits of people in fashionable and contemporary clothes. Notably, he was commissioned for a work that features the Duke and Duchess of Montagu [Source: National Gallery].

Fountain in the Garden Court at the Frick Collection. Photo by Ying Cao

Your Next Visit to the Frick

You can visit The Frick Collection on Madison Avenue from Thursday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm.  It is closed from Monday to Wednesday. Currently, the museum requires timed-entry tickets by reservation through its website.  Tickets can’t be transferred to another person or resold. If you need to rebook your tickets, you must inform the museum 24 hours before your scheduled entry.

The ticket costs $22 for adults, seniors aged over 65, and visitors with disabilities are $17, while college students and youth aged 10 to 17 need to pay $12.  Students need to bring their identification cards to avail of the discounted price of the ticket. The members of the museum and the care partners of people with disabilities are free of admission. Children aged below ten years old are not allowed in the museum.  Every Thursday, starting 4 pm to 6 pm, The Frick Collection implements Pay–what–you–wish admission.

Note that all visitors to the museum must wear a face mask. Bringing oversized bags inside the galleries is prohibited.  The museum stops admitting visitors by 5:30 pm, and the galleries close at 5:45 pm. The Frick Collection is at 945 Madison Avenue, 75th Street, New York [Source: The Frick Collection Admission].

70th street Garden at the Frick Collection. Photo by Ying Cao


The museum provides tons of exclusive offerings to anyone who wants to be a part of it as a member.  Its several hierarchical memberships comprise Individual, Dual, Contributing Friend, Sustaining Friend, Fellow, Contributing Fellow, Committee Fellow,  Sustaining Fellow, Patron Fellow, Young Fellow, Contributing Young Fellow, Committee Young Fellow, and Sustaining Young Fellow.  Various perks are offered based on your selection among the said options. The membership fee ranges from $75 to $10,000 annually.  Therefore, you can choose what fits into your budget and how immersive you want your experience to be with the museum [Source: The Frick Collection Membership].

Under the basic membership “Individual,” which costs $75 per annum, you’ll get: unlimited admission for one, 20% to 30% discount to the museum’s shop, 10% off at its café, discounted education and private tours, members’ magazine released three times every year, and join member-only programs. Said programs include members’ mornings, evening hours, and preview days [Source: The Frick Collection Individual Membership].

The Sustaining Young Fellow level is the most costly for visitors with a hefty budget of $10,000 for one year but has an equivalent immersive set of benefits. The members of the said level, aged 21 to 45 years, get to dine with the museum’s Director. Apart from receiving all available museum perks, they will get the chance to travel with the Director and curators [Source: The Frick Collection Sustaining Young Fellow Membership].

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