Frick Makes Its Most Significant Painting Purchase In Nearly 30 Years

Full-Length Portrait By Gérard Complements Masterpieces Collected By Founder Henry Clay Frick

January 5, 2018

The Frick Collection recently announced its most important painting purchase since 1991 with the acquisition of François-Pascal-Simon Gérard’s full-length portrait of “Prince Camillo Borghese,” a notable art patron and the brother-in-law of Napoleon Bonaparte. Gérard was one of the most significant French artists of the first half of the 19th century, and this stunning canvas will coalesce seamlessly with the museum’s holdings, which until now have not included his work. Chronologically, the painting falls between the museum’s French masterpieces by Boucher and Fragonard and later works by Ingres, Renoir, Monet, and Manet, while joining contemporaneous portraits by Chinard and David. It will, likewise, find good company in major works of portraiture by Bronzino, Rembrandt, Titian, Holbein, Van Dyck, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Romney, Hogarth, Goya, and Whistler. Following conservation and technical study this winter and spring at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, “Prince Camillo Borghese” will go on view at the Frick in mid-2018.
“The Frick’s holdings reflect the founder’s discerning taste and his requirement of absolute quality. Just as Henry Clay Frick (1849–1919) made a series of unrushed choices, the growth of the collection in the nearly 100 years since his passing has been steady but measured, including acquisitions of sculpture and decorative arts, always meeting his criteria of highest quality. With this painting, the Frick has found a masterpiece that beautifully complements its esteemed holdings,” said chair of the board of trustees Betty Eveillard.
“The last opportunity the Frick had to purchase a major French School painting was nearly 30 years ago, with the 1991 acquisition of Watteau’s “Portal of Valenciennes.” It is deeply rewarding to now bring to the museum such an important, historic work with an unbroken provenance from the Borghese family, still on its original, unlined canvas, and in its original frame. It is a portrait we feel would have compelled Henry Clay Frick. While the portrait has been shown in Rome, it has never been seen publicly in America. We look forward to sharing it in the atmospheric setting of the former Frick residence and among equally well chosen works,” said director Ian Wardropper.
The Frick Collection is an art museum located in the Henry Clay Frick House on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, New York City, at 1 E. 70th St., at the northeast corner with Fifth Avenue.
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