American Tycoons and Art History: The Morgan Library and Frick Collection

American Tycoons and Art History: The Morgan Library and Frick Collection

Frick Collection Image1An important chapter in the history of American entrepreneurs and their influence on the broader art world and on popular taste began in the late 19th century with New York City’s tycoon patrons such as William Henry Vanderbilt (1821-1885), Katherine Dreier (1877-1952) and John Quinn (1870–1924), who amassed enormous collections that were driven–for the most part–by personal taste. Today, the majority the these art collections have been dispersed: either sold off, auctioned or donated to various museums around the country.

In a rare preservation, we can still find the extraordinary art collections of the industrialist Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919) and the legendary financier Pierpoint Morgan (1837-1913) in the heart of New York City, housed in the original homes and libraries the Pierpoint Morgan Museum and Library and The Frick Collection, allowing us a view into the world of the resplendent décor, design and architecture of historic homes, and the often eclectic (if not eccentric) collecting habits of the 19th-century financial barons who relished their worldly success through acquiring art works of great beauty and rarity.

Self-Portrait, 1658The first stop will be The Morgan Library & Museum at 36th street. Today, the site is a collection of remarkable historic and modern buildings including the first structure “Mr. Morgan’s library”(1902-1906) designed by Charles Follen McKim, its original function to house Pierpont Morgan’s private library, other additions to accommodate the art collection including the Annex (1928) and the mid-19th-century brownstone on Madison Avenue and 37th Street. Pierpont Morgan’s private acquisitions are the basis of this substantial and fascinating collection donated to the public in 1924. The library holds countless rare books, manuscripts, drawings, prints, and ancient artifacts Egyptian art to Renaissance paintings to Chinese porcelains.

Frick Museum GardenThe tour will culminate with a visit to Frick’s magnificent home, is a true gem in the metropolis with its interior courtyard, resplendent décor and remarkable objects. . Designed by Carrère and Hastings (1913), it was constructed to serve as a showcase for Frick’s distinguished collection. There are sixteen galleries in which much of the art remains arranged and displayed as Frick had originally decreed. Highlights include the Fragonard Room as well as the living hall filled with masterworks such as Vermeer’s Mistress and Maid. The original homes and collections of Frick and Morgan reflect the entrepreneurial spirit of America, and their discerning and sometimes daring collection of art work, furniture, books and decorative arts of all periods, which made them tastemakers in the art world during their lifetime, and today. These businessmen were not art historians or connoisseurs, but rather had an eye for not only masterworks but also for the unusual.

Often regarded as a ruthless businessman, Frick made his fortune in industry, including distilleries, coke, and iron and steel. This private art collection (now publicly accessible) shows an extraordinary sensitivity that is not easy to reconcile with his merciless image in labor history.

  rosa berlandRosa Berland is an art historian of modern art based in New York City and Long Island. She has served as an assistant curator at The Museum of Modern Art, and worked at the Guggenheim Museum as well as the Frick Collection. She is the author of a number of academic book chapters and articles including work on Oskar Kokoschka’s early literary and visual practice. She is currently writing a monograph on the American artist Edward E. Boccia in cooperation with the artist’s trust. She obtained her MA in Fine Art History at the University of Toronto, and her BA with Honors in Art History & European History from Pennsylvania State University. Her specializations include Expressionism in art and literature, the history of collecting, and the development of regional modernism in the Americas.


Insight Cities arranges this tour only for private groups with advance notice, at present. Thanks for emailing us at [email protected].
Additional Costs:
Morgan Library Tickets
Individual: $18, students & seniors $12
Frick Collection Tickets
Individual: $20, students $10, seniors $15

Your guide will help you to purchase tickets at the Morgan Library and the Frick Collection
Starting Location:
Morgan Library & Museum
225 Madison Ave, New York
NY 10016, United States


Groups of over 10 should contact us at [email protected] in order to get a special rate for their party.

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