"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Friday, August 5, 2016

Henry Clay Frick

This c. 1910 portrait of Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919) and his daughter Helen Clay Frick (1888–1984) by Edmund C. Tarbell hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.
"Like fellow industrialist Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick grew up in a family of limited means. Yet by age thirty he had made his first million dollars and had positioned himself as a key player in America's industrial development. Believing that steel would be the principal building material of the future, Frick amassed his fortune first by supplying coke -- fuel made from coal -- to the steel industry and later by partnering with Carnegie to create the world's largest steel company. A cutthroat businessman who opposed labor unions, Frick was aggressive in making his operations more efficient. In 1892, during a violent confrontation with striking steelworkers in Homestead, Pennsylvania, he did not hesitate to call in guards from the Pinkerton Detective Agency and the state militia to break the union's resolve. This double portrait shows the industrialist with his daughter Helen." -- National Portrait Gallery

 Another description of this painting discusses the roles of both Henry Clay Frick and his daughter Helen Clay Frick as patrons of the Arts.
"A discriminating collector of paintings, bronzes, and enamels, Frick devoted much of his efforts during his later years to amassing art treasures. To house them he built, in 1913, an elegant mansion on New York’s Fifth Avenue, which he filled with paintings by such masters as Rembrandt,Van Dyck, Rubens, and El Greco. upon his death, he bequeathed to New York City both his home and a fund for establishing the Frick Collection within it. His daughter, Helen, served as trustee of the institution after her father’s death, and further enhanced the family’s legacy to art scholarship by building, next door to the museum, the invaluable Frick Art Reference Library, of which she was director for sixty-three years." -- NPG,  Portraits of Character

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