Book Cover, Photo: Joseph Coscia Jr
Text by Award-Winning Novelist Alan Hollinghurst Paired with an Essay by Xavier F. Salomon
The Frick’s Diptych series continues this winter with a volume on Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s Progress of Love, a remarkable ensemble of paintings that is a jewel in the crown of the museum’s collection. Each of the seven books in this popular series brings a fresh perspective to a Frick artwork by pairing an art-historical essay with a text by a contemporary cultural figure. In this instance, Xavier F. Salomon, Deputy Director and Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator, illuminates the intriguing story of how these exuberant eighteenth-century paintings were created. As a complement, the award-winning novelist, poet, and, short-story writer Alan Hollinghurst offers a lyrical essay centered on the lush and evocative backdrops that dominate each major picture.
Comments Salomon, “The timing couldn’t be better for a renewed discussion of the Fragonard panels. Long beloved by those visiting the museum buildings on 70th Street, which are under renovation, the works are currently installed in a striking manner at Frick Madison, our temporary home. On the fourth floor of Marcel Breuer’s modernist building, the full set of fourteen Fragonard panels is shown in its entirety for the first time in more than one hundred years and in a historically accurate configuration not possible at the mansion. In this orientation, and through this new Diptych publication, our understanding of Fragonard’s masterpiece is greatly enriched.”
The first four of fourteen paintings in The Progress of Love were commissioned in 1771 for Madame du Barry, to be installed in 1772 in a pavilion outside Paris built for her by her lover, Louis XV. By 1773, the canvases—The Pursuit, The Meeting, The Lover Crowned, and Love Letters—had been rejected by Du Barry and returned to the artist. In 1790, Fragonard moved them to his cousin’s house, Villa Maubert, in Grasse. Over the course of a year, he painted ten additional panels: two large-scale works, Love Triumphant and Reverie, four narrow “strips” depicting hollyhocks, and four overdoors of putti. Sold in 1898 to the dealer Agnew’s, the works were next installed in the London home of collector J. P. Morgan. In 1915, the series was purchased for Henry Clay Frick and brought the following year to his new Fifth Avenue mansion, now the core building of The Frick Collection.
Strongly identified with the museum that bears the name of Henry Clay Frick, these works signal a noteworthy turning point in his collection. Until that date, Frick had primarily purchased Old Masters of the British, Dutch and Flemish, and Italian schools, with a few examples of Spanish paintings. His interest in French art was confined to nineteenth-century works by artists who were almost his contemporaries, those of the Barbizon school and Impressionists. The creation of the Fragonard Room and the transformation of the family Drawing Room into an eighteenth-century French set piece marked the beginning of an important series of acquisitions by Henry Clay Frick and subsequent trustees.
Holbein’s Sir Thomas More by Hilary Mantel and Xavier F. Salomon
72 pages, 37 color illustrations, hardcover $17.95, member price $14.36
Vermeer’s Mistress and Maid by James Ivory and Margaret Iacono
64 pages, 30 color illustrations, hardcover $19.95, member price $15.96
Gouthière’s Candelabras by Edmund de Waal and Charlotte Vignon
64 pages, 27 color illustrations, hardcover $19.95, member price $15.96
Rembrandt’s Polish Rider by Maira Kalman and Xavier F. Salomon
84 pages; 48 color illustrations, hardcover $19.95, member price $15.96
Constable’s White Horse by William Kentridge and Aimee Ng
72 pages; 37 color illustrations, hardcover $24.95, member price $19.96
Titian’s Pietro Aretino by Francine Prose and Xavier F. Salomon
72 pages; 25 color illustrations, hardcover $24.95, member price $19.96
Fragonard’s Progress of Love by Alan Hollinghurst and Xavier F. Salomon
112 pages; 55 color illustrations, hardcover $29.95, member price $23.96
ABOUT THE FRICK COLLECTION AND FRICK MADISON
Internationally recognized as a premier museum and research center, The Frick Collection is known for its distinguished Old Master paintings and outstanding examples of European sculpture and decorative arts. The collection originated with Henry Clay Frick (1849–1919), who bequeathed his home, paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts to the public for their enjoyment. The institution’s holdings—which encompass masterworks from the Renaissance through the nineteenth century—have grown over the decades, more than doubling in size since the opening of the museum in 1935. A critical component of the institution is the Frick Art Reference Library, founded in 1920 by Helen Clay Frick, daughter of the museum’s founder. Recognized as one of the world’s top art history research centers, it has served students, scholars, and members of the public free of charge for generations.
The Frick’s historic buildings are currently closed for renovation. Honoring the Frick’s architectural legacy, the plan designed by Selldorf Architects will provide unprecedented access to the 1914 residence, while preserving the intimate visitor experience and beloved galleries. The plan will create new spaces for the display of art, conservation, education, and programs, while improving amenities and overall accessibility.
During the renovation, the museum and library collections remain accessible five blocks north at Frick Madison, the Marcel Breuer–designed building that was once the home of the Whitney Museum of American Art. Audiences may enjoy a substantial gathering of highlights from the Frick, reframed in a setting that inspires fresh perspectives. In a departure from the Frick’s customary presentation style, works are organized at Frick Madison chronologically and by region, allowing for fresh juxtapositions and new insights about treasured paintings and sculptures by Bellini, Clodion, Fragonard, Gainsborough, Goya, Holbein, Houdon, Ingres, Piero della Francesca, Rembrandt, Titian, Turner, Velázquez, Vermeer, Whistler, and many others. The installation also spotlights the Frick’s impressive holdings of decorative arts and sculpture, as well as rarely seen works.
Building project: frickfuture.org
Bloomberg Connects app: frick.org/app
Frick Madison visitor address: 945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street, New York, NY 10021
Museum hours: Thursday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; closed Monday through Wednesday. See website for holiday schedule.
Admission: Timed tickets are required and may be purchased online. $22 general public; $17 seniors and visitors with disabilities; $12 students. Admission is always free for members. Pay-what-you-wish admission is offered Thursdays from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.
Please note: Children under ten are not admitted to the museum.
COVID-19/health and safety policies: frick.org/visit/guidelines
Ticket purchases: frick.org/tickets. For questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Group museum visits: Currently suspended. Please visit our website to learn more about virtual group visits.
Public programs: A calendar of online, virtual, and video events is available on our website.
Shop: Open during museum hours as well as online daily.
Coat check: Closed until further notice. Visitors are not permitted to carry oversized items into the galleries.
Refreshments: A light menu, offered by Joe Coffee, is available during museum hours.
Subway: #6 local to 77th Street station; #Q to 72nd Street station. Bus: M1, M2, M3, and M4 southbound on Fifth Avenue to 75th Street and northbound on Madison Avenue to 74th Street.
Museum mailing address: 1 East 70th Street at Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10021
Photography: Allowed only in the Frick Madison Lobby.
Reading room: Access is offered by appointment Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. For further information, visit frick.org/tickets.