Frick, Henry Clay, 1849-1919

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1849-12-19
Death 1919-12-02
Americans

Biographical notes:

Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919), a prominent industrialist and art collector, commissioned architect Thomas Hastings of the firm Carrère & Hastings to design and build his New York residence in 1912. Located at One East 70th Street, the three-story Beaux-Arts mansion featured a 100-foot gallery for his art collection. Charles Allom of White, Allom & Co. and Elsie de Wolfe were selected to furnish the rooms. Frick, along with his wife and daughter, took up residence in the house in November 1914. Frick, who began his art collection in 1881, continued to acquire paintings, sculpture, furnishings and other decorative objects until his death in 1919. In 1931, the house, in accordance with the terms of Frick's will, was converted into a museum, with architectural changes overseen by John Russell Pope. Expanded to include two new galleries, a music room, and a garden court, the museum opened to the public as The Frick Collection in 1935.

From the description of Henry Clay Frick Furnishings Files, 1913-1920. (Frick Art Reference Library of The Frick Collection). WorldCat record id: 713907326

Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919) was a wealthy Pittsburgh industrialist who made much of his fortune through the production of coke and steel. Also a prominent art collector, Frick began acquiring paintings in 1881, and continued to build his collection until his death in 1919. Early acquisitions, including works by local Pennsylvania artists and contemporary French painters were hung at his home in Pittsburgh. Around the turn of the century, Frick's taste shifted largely to paintings by old masters, including works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Dyck, Gainsborough, Bellini, Holbein, and Turner. He added to his collection by purchasing paintings, sculpture, porcelains, enamels, and furniture from the estate of fellow collector J.P. Morgan in the mid-1910s. By the end of Frick's life, the bulk of his collection was housed in his New York residence, which he bequeathed as a museum upon his death. The Frick Collection opened to the public in 1935.

From the description of Henry Clay Frick Papers, Series I: Art Files, 1881-1925, undated. (Frick Art Reference Library of The Frick Collection). WorldCat record id: 605037830

From the description of Henry Clay Frick Art Collection Files, 1881-1920. (Frick Art Reference Library of The Frick Collection). WorldCat record id: 605050936

Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919) was a prominent industrialist and art collector who made his fortune in the coal, coke, steel, and railroad industries. Frick and his wife, Adelaide H.C. Frick, owned homes in Pittsburgh, Pa., and Prides Crossing, Mass., and leased the Vanderbilt mansion at 640 Fifth Avenue , New York, N.Y., from 1905-1914. In 1906, Frick began to make plans for the construction of his own New York residence by purchasing land at the corner of 70th Street and Fifth Avenue. Plans for the house, designed by Thomas Hastings of the firm Carrère & Hastings, were finalized in 1912, and construction began in 1913. The house's principal rooms on the first floor were decorated by Charles Allom of White, Allom & Co., while Elsie de Wolfe decorated most of the family's private rooms on the upper floors. Frick and his family began occupying the house in November 1914.

In the mid-1910s, Frick had the opportunity to acquire objects from the estate of J.P. Morgan, through the art dealer Joseph Duveen. Frick purchased furniture and decorative arts, as well as a series of 18th century French panels by Fragonard. The house's first floor Drawing Room was then renovated to accomodate the panels. With the exception of the Fragonard Room, the house remained essentially unchanged from the time of its construction until the death of Adelaide H.C. Frick in 1931. At that time, according to the terms of Frick's will, the house was converted into a museum. It opened to the public as The Frick Collection in 1935.

From the description of One East 70th Street Papers 1907 - 1931. (Frick Art Reference Library of The Frick Collection). WorldCat record id: 714120581

Henry Clay Frick was born in 1849, in West Overton, Pa. One of six children, his parents were John W. Frick, a farmer, and Elizabeth Overholt Frick, the daughter of a whiskey distiller and flour merchant. Frick ended his formal education in his late teens, and began work as a clerk at an uncle's store in Mt. Pleasant, Pa. In 1871, Frick borrowed money to purchase a share in a coking concern that would eventually become the H.C. Frick Coke Co. Over the next decade, Frick expanded his business through the acquisition of more coal lands and coke ovens, and joined forces with fellow industrialist Andrew Carnegie in 1882. He assumed the chairmanship of Carnegie Bros. and Co. (later Carnegie Steel Co.) in 1889, and served in that capacity until his resignation from the company in December 1899.

In 1881, Frick married Adelaide Howard Childs of Pittsburgh. The couple purchased a house, nicknamed Clayton, in the Homewood section of Pittsburgh, and had four children: Childs Frick (1883-1965), Martha Howard Frick (1885-1891), Helen Clay Frick (1888-1984), and Henry Clay Frick, Jr. (born 1892, died in infancy). After the turn of the century, Frick and his family began dividing their time between Pittsburgh, New York, and Massachusetts. In 1905, Frick leased the Vanderbilt mansion at 640 Fifth Avenue in New York. The family's summer residence, located on Boston's North Shore, was completed in 1906 and christened Eagle Rock. As early as 1907, Frick began planning for a New York residence of his own. That year, he purchased a plot of land at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 70th Street, and in 1912, after the demolition of the Lenox Library formerly on the site, began building the beaux arts mansion which now houses The Frick Collection. Designed by Thomas Hastings of the firm Carrère and Hastings, the family moved into the house at One East Seventieth Street in the fall of 1914, and Frick died there five years later.

From the description of Henry Clay Frick Papers, Series IV: Receipts 1900-1926. (Frick Art Reference Library of The Frick Collection). WorldCat record id: 690008995

Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919) was a wealthy Pittsburgh industrialist who made much of his fortune through the production of coke and steel. He founded H.C. Frick Coke Co., and formed a business partnership with Andrew Carnegie in 1882. He became chairman of Carnegie Bros. & Co. (later Carnegie Steel Co.) in 1889, and served in that capacity until his resignation from the company in 1899. Following his break with Carnegie, Frick remained engaged in business until the end of his life, serving on the boards of various banking, railroad, and insurance concerns. Frick was also active as a philanthropist, contributing to educational and cultural institutions, hospitals, churches, and civic organizations.

Frick married Adelaide Howard Childs in 1881, and the couple established a residence (called Clayton) in Pittsburgh. They had four children: Childs Frick (1883-1965), Martha Howard Frick (1885-1891), Helen Clay Frick (1888-1984), and Henry Clay Frick, Jr. (born 1892, died in infancy). In addition to their home in Pittsburgh, the Fricks also maintained a summer home called Eagle Rock in Prides Crossing, Mass., and a beaux arts mansion at One East 70th Street in New York, designed by Thomas Hastings. A prominent art collector, Frick began acquiring paintings around the time of his marriage, and continued to build his collection until his death in 1919. The bulk of his collection, consisting of paintings by old masters such as Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough, Holbein, and Turner, along with furnishings and decorative objects, was housed in his New York residence, which he bequeathed as a museum upon his death. The Frick Collection opened to the public in 1935.

From the description of Henry Clay Frick Papers, Series III: Voucher Files, 1892-1929. (Frick Art Reference Library of The Frick Collection). WorldCat record id: 612325703

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Subjects:

  • Decorative arts--Collectors and collecting
  • Mansions
  • Art--Collectors and collecting
  • Art dealers
  • Interior decoration

Occupations:

not available for this record

Places:

  • New York (State)--New York (as recorded)
  • New York (State)--New York (as recorded)
  • New York (State)--New York (as recorded)
  • New York (State)--New York (as recorded)