Collection Highlights

The Frick Pittsburgh

Take a closer look at 11 masterpieces from The Frick Pittsburgh. 

George Hetzel was one of the most popular and well-known painters to work in the Pittsburgh region in the late 19th century. This painting, bought in 1881, is the earliest recorded purchase of a work of art by Henry Clay Frick.

Hetzel's intimate and meditative views of nature are characteristic of works by the Scalp Level School, a group of Pittsburgh-based artists who gathered annually at a mountain retreat near Johnstown, Pennsylvania to sketch and paint the surrounding wilderness.

This painting, which hangs in the sitting room at Clayton, illustrates typical qualities of an Impressionist work:

active, visible brushstrokes, an interest in capturing light effects, and a much brighter palette than was typical of Salon painting at the time.

Probably the finest American painting at Clayton, this modest trompe l’oeil still life measures less than eight by ten inches. The French expression trompe l’oeil means to “fool the eye” and it is used to describe a style of extreme illusionism in painting.

Harnett, made a name for himself as the quintessential American trompe l’oeil painter. It is said that when his paintings were publicly exhibited, guards were required to prevent onlookers from trying to remove objects from the painting.

This richly detailed composition is a fine example of Netherlandish still-life painting.

Purchased by Henry Clay Frick in 1896, it marks Frick’s first venture into collecting old masters.

The assortment of spring flowers and late summer fruit depicted could never have existed as seen here. Van Os created imaginary arrangements based on watercolor studies he made of each specimen in season.

In this painting, even the smallest objects—insects, snails, and water droplets—are perfectly delineated.

One of the most important figures of Sienese painting, Sassetta combined the stylized figures and rich ornamentation of the Gothic style with the naturalism of the budding Florentine Renaissance.

For example, while surrounded by a field of heavenly gold, the elegant, sinuous Madonna sits on a cushion placed on a tile floor rendered in perspective to create a sense of space.

The faces and gestures of the Madonna and child also portray a more natural solemn tenderness.

Giovanni di Paolo was a master of the Sienese tradition of decorative and precious painting. While many of his Renaissance contemporaries favored a more realistic rendering of spatial relationships, employing accurate linear perspective, he opted for a curving, narrative composition, loaded with religious symbols.

Giovanni's training as a miniaturist is reflected in exquisite details, like the fruit trees, and the meticulously painted peacock.

The use of vibrant, saturated colors in this composition clearly indicate that Bacchiacca was aware of the development of Mannerism, a late-Renaissance style characterized by a move away from realism towards stylish and artful exaggeration.

The Florentine artist is cleverly quoting from paintings by the most important artists of the time--the head of the Madonna is very similar to those of Leonardo da Vinci, and Saint Elizabeth is modeled after a figure by Andrea del Sarto.

This tapestry is a rare example of an intact devotional weaving, used as a mobile altar. It is composed very much like a painting, with a naturalistic landscape and figures framed by a decorative border.

It is of exceptional qualilty, made with the finest materials—including gold and silver threads. The cost of materials and the months of labor required made tapestries more expensive than paintings and a status symbol demanded by kings and popes.

The composition is filled with meticulous, naturalistic details—botanically correct rendering of foliage, and irises, a diving duck, frog, and heron.

Although executed in miniature, the figures in Antoine Le Nain’s Le Bénédicité, are full of life, their faces are individually characterized, expressive with a range of feeling.

The direct gaze and wonderful smile of the boy on the right imbues the whole composition with a feeling of affection and immediacy.

With his toothy grin, he is one of the most memorable and carefully rendered figures associated with this artist, whose figures were normally more subdued.

Boucher was a young man at the start of an illustrious career when he painted this pastoral—a romanticized vision of country life, in which a peasant couple, full of the bloom of youth, relax and flirt in an idealized landscape.

The painting fully reveals all the freshness of Boucher's brushwork, his mastery of textures, whether it be in the straws of the basket, the foliage of the trees, the softness of the fabric, or the airy matter of the clouds.

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