Conservation at the Frick

Posted in the 18th century in the news by Editor on December 7, 2009

Press release, dated 30 November 2009, from the Frick’s website:

Joseph Godla, Chief Conservator of the Frick Collection, photo Michael Bodycomb

The Frick Collection is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a $1 million challenge grant by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. When matched over the next four years with $3 million in contributions from other sources, the grant will create a $4 million endowment for the position of Chief Conservator, also providing, in perpetuity, funds for research, professional development, and related expenses. Comments Frick Collection Board Chairman Margot Bogert, “Change happens in perhaps less obvious ways at the Frick than elsewhere, which for many of our enthusiasts is an attraction. However, in the last decade, the institution has experienced an exciting level of growth and advancement in its curatorial and conservation departments. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has been involved in these efforts in significant ways, generously funding a vital curatorial fellowship program and contributing support for the endowed position of Curator of Decorative Arts. With this latest grant, we have the opportunity to create a firm foundation for permanence and growth in the vital area of conservation.”

Adds Director Anne Poulet, “The establishment of a formal Conservation Department at The Frick Collection is a relatively recent event. We are extremely proud of the superb team now in place, led by Joseph Godla, and the myriad ways in which he and his staff care for our holdings and the beautiful mansion that houses them. We depend daily on the remarkable skills and watchful eye of this department, whose efforts extend collaboratively into research and education. In helping us meet the challenge grant, our supporters will ensure that this area of the Collection’s stewardship continues, while also making possible the staff’s broader contributions within the conservation community. It is an exciting prospect, and we are deeply grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for making it possible.” (more…)

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Drawings from the Frits Lugt Collection at the Frick

Posted in catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on October 17, 2009

From the Frick’s website:

Watteau to Degas: French Drawings from the Frits Lugt Collection
Frick Collection, New York, 6 October 2009 – 10 January 2010


Colin Bailey, Susan Grace Galassi, Mària van Berge-Gerbaud, $60

Frederik Johannes Lugt (1884–1970) was a Dutch art historian, connoisseur, and collector. His fame in scholarly circles derives from two pioneering publications, still in use today: his Les marques de collections de dessins et d’estampes, published in 1921, which identifies the collectors’ marks found on Old Master prints and drawings, and the Répertoire des catalogues de ventes publiques intéressant l’art ou la curiosité, a comprehensive listing of nearly 90,000 auction catalogues from sales occurring between 1600 and 1925, published in four volumes between 1938 and 1987.

Frits Lugt, as he was known, was a born collector. By the age of eight, he had sold his shell collection to the natural history department of Amsterdam’s Royal Zoo; at fifteen, he acquired his first drawing. In his thirties, he began to collect in a more serious and systematic way, specializing in Dutch and Flemish drawings and prints, always his chief interest. During the 1920s, the decade in which he made his most important acquisitions, he also bought fifteenth-century Italian drawings and eighteenth-century French sheets.


Charles-Nicolas Cochin, "Portrait of Pierre-Jean Mariette," Graphite with stumping, 1756

Lugt was among the founders and principal supporters of the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie (RKD), the institute devoted to the study of Netherlandish art and artists, established in The Hague in 1930. In 1947, he created the Fondation Custodia in Paris, to care for and to add to his collection of 6,000 Old Master drawings and 30,000 prints. The Frits Lugt Collection is widely regarded by specialists as one of the finest of its kind, but it is less well known to the general public.

Curators at The Frick Collection were invited to select for the exhibition and its accompanying catalogue Lugt’s finest eighteenth- and nineteenth-century French drawings, and the sixty-four works featured in the exhibition illuminate both Lugt’s taste and that of his successors. Included are drawings and watercolors by well-known masters of the French School such as Watteau, Boucher, Fragonard, David, Ingres, and Degas, as well as by important figures who are less familiar to the general public. This is the first time that a group of French master drawings from the Fondation Custodia has traveled to New York.

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Stijn Alsteens (Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY), Frits Lugt: Connoisseur and Collector of Drawings
Wednesday, 18 November 2009, 6pm

Colin Bailey (Frick Collection), Eighteenth-Century French Drawings from The Frits Lugt Collection
Saturday, 9 January 2010, 2pm

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The show’s illustrated checklist (available here) includes more than thirty eighteenth-century drawings. The Frick’s website also includes podcasts on the exhibition by Colin Bailey and Susan Galassi.

Charlotte Vignon Takes up Curatorship at the Frick

Posted in the 18th century in the news by Editor on October 1, 2009

The Frick’s first curator of decorative arts officially starts this month in her new position. As described in a press release from the museum:


Charlotte Vignon, Associate Curator of Decorative Arts, The Frick Collection (Photo: Michael Bodycomb)

The Frick Collection announces the appointment of Charlotte Vignon to the first curatorship dedicated to the museum’s impressive decorative arts collection. Vignon takes up the newly created post of Associate Curator of Decorative Arts in October 2009, a development that sets the stage for a deeper understanding of and focus on the institution’s holdings in this area. Comments Director Anne Poulet, “It has long been our desire to make our decorative arts holdings better known through improved displays, temporary exhibitions, publications, and educational programs. We were able to endow this position with the assistance of a generous challenge grant offered in 2007 by the National Endowment for the Humanities that has been matched three to one by a group of individuals and foundations. It is a pleasure to welcome Charlotte Vignon to this new post.” Adds Associate Director and Chief Curator Colin Bailey, “This is an extremely exciting moment for the Frick, as the addition of this significant position, which followed a competitive, international search, will allow us to interpret and present our collections more fully. Vignon brings a depth of knowledge of the decorative arts that is combined with a keen interest in American collectors, among them Henry Clay Frick and J. P. Morgan, as well as the dealer Joseph Duveen—a topic that is compelling in its own right and particularly so at the Frick. The post also represents a new collaboration with New York’s Bard Graduate Center, where Vignon will teach an annual seminar on the decorative arts, one of many ways in which this new curatorship is designed to contribute to the academic community.”

Pair of deep blue Chinese porcelain jars with French gilt-bronze mounts, 1700–49.

Pair of deep blue Chinese porcelain jars with French gilt-bronze mounts, 1700–49 (NY: Frick Collection)

A native of France, where she received her education and spent several fruitful years early in her career working as a researcher in the field of European decorative arts, Vignon comes to the position having also held three highly regarded fellowships at American museums, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cleveland Museum of Art, and currently, The Frick Collection, where she is an Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow. In Cleveland, she held Andrew W. Mellon and Peter Krueger Christie Fellowships, and she worked on the first catalogue of that museum’s eighteenth-century decorative arts collection under the direction of Curator Henry Hawley. Her research resulted in the discovery of significant information about the provenance of objects and, in several cases, new identification and attributions. Vignon’s involvement in the activities of the department deepened over the course of four years, especially with Hawley’s retirement. Holding an Annette Kade Fellowship at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, she worked with curator Danielle Kisluk-Grosheide on a variety of projects, contributed to acquisition reports, and was engaged in research on the permanent collection, also resulting in new identifications.

For The Frick Collection, Vignon is currently developing a fall 2009 exhibition, Exuberant Grotesques: Renaissance Maiolica from the Fontana Workshop, for which she is also writing the catalogue. This project focuses on an important recent gift to the institution and follows the model of other critically acclaimed Cabinet presentations by examining an object in the context of important related works of art. She has also been working closely with Conservator Joseph Godla to present seminars on aspects of the Frick’s furniture collection and, while at all three museums, has frequently lectured and written articles on topics in the decorative arts and collecting.


Commode with pictorial marquetry, made by Roger Lacroix under the direction of Gilles Joubert, Paris, 1769 (NY: Frick Collection)

This fall, she will complete her Ph.D. dissertation for the Sorbonne, Paris, on the dealings of the Duveen Brothers in European decorative arts and Chinese porcelains between 1880 and 1940. This is a topic of great relevance to the museum, as many of Henry Clay Frick’s purchases came through Duveen’s firm. The subject also relates to the focus of interest at the Frick’s recently established Center for the History of Collecting in America, based at its Art Reference Library.

Comments Vignon, “It is a privilege to join the Frick staff in this important new role, undoubtedly an opportunity of great possibilities. Today, the Frick is known for its Old Master paintings and sculpture, and I look forward to expanding the public’s understanding and appreciation of its superb collection of decorative arts through exhibitions and education programs. At the same time, I hope to bring the Frick into the forefront of scholarly research in the field through ground-breaking publications and creative courses at the Bard Graduate Center.”

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In The Magazine Antiques (30 June 2009), Vignon shares a selection of her favorite objects from the Frick Collection, including the jars and commode pictured above. Click here for the article»

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