As you walk through the Frick Collection’s Garden Court, towards the Oval Room, you immediately see in the distance, the bright orange color of Frederic Leighton’s stunning “Flaming June.” The closer you get, the more striking it becomes. Not only because of the intrinsic qualities of the painting itself — the color, the lines, the abandonment — but also because it is unlike anything else at the Frick.
Built in 1913, the house was designed to accommodate paintings and other art objects collected by Henry Clay Frick, the Pittsburgh coke and steel industrialist. The intention was to one day leave the house, and Frick’s art collection, to the public. After Mrs. Frick’s death in 1931, family and trustees of The Frick Collection began the transformation of the Fifth Avenue residence into a museum. Additions were made to the original house, including two galleries (the Oval Room and East Gallery), a combination lecture hall and music room, and the enclosed Garden Court, originally the location of the home’s driveway. It opened to the pubic in December 1935.
The permanent collection began with one hundred thirty-seven paintings and also included sculpture, decorative arts, drawings, and prints. Today, The Frick houses a permanent collection of more than 1,100 works of art from the Renaissance to the late nineteenth century. Artists represented in the Collection include Rembrandt, El Greco,Vermeer, Gainsborough, Turner, and Whistler. While the later acquisitions are able to be loaned to other museums, Frick stipulated that his original collection could only be viewed in his original home. My favorite room was the West Gallery where there are several JMW Turner harbor paintings and iconic Vermeers and Rembrandts.
Leighton’s Flaming June is on view through September 6th. The Frick is open everyday but Monday.