Frick Family's Travels to the Netherlands and Acquisitions of Works by Rembrandt and Vermeer 

From October 2013 through January 2014, one of Vermeer's most famous paintings, "Girl with a Pearl Earring," was on view at The Frick Collection. That work, along with paintings by Rembrandt, Fabritius, and others, were on loan from the Mauritshuis in the Netherlands, which was undergoing renovation. To honor the occasion, The Frick Collection and Frick Art Reference Library Archives prepared a selection of items documenting travels of the Frick family to the Netherlands, along with materials regarding Henry Clay Frick's acquisition of works by Rembrandt and Vermeer.

While it is not known for certain whether Henry Clay Frick ever visited the Mauritshuis, we do know that the Frick family visited Holland in 1896. Frick wrote of his intention to visit the country in a letter to Andrew Carnegie in July of that year.

An itinerary in Mrs. Frick's hand places the family at the Hotel des Indes,The Hague from August 3rd through 7th that summer, in between stops in Spa and Ostend, Belgium.

Almost forty years later, Helen Clay Frick, Mr. Frick's daughter, visited the Netherlands again, this time compiling a detailed scrapbook describing her trip. On September 15, 1932, she passed through Dordrecht, the subject of a Cuyp painting in her father's collection.

After stopping in Rotterdam to visit the Bojmans Museum, Miss Frick continued through Delft on the way to The Hague, where she stayed at Hotel des Indes, the same hotel the family visited in 1896.

On September 16, 1932, Helen Clay Frick was personally conducted around the Mauritshuis by its Director, Wilhelm Martin, who shared details regarding the restoration of Dutch paintings. She also met Hans Schneider, Director of the Rijksbureau voor kunsthistorische en ikonographische documentatie, founded two years earlier by Hofstede de Groot.

Several works depicted in Miss Frick's scrapbook were on view at The Frick Collection during the 2013-2014 Mauritshuis exhibition, including Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring, Fabritius' The Goldfinch, seen here, and Steen's "As the Old Sing, So Pipe the Young," seen on the preceding page.

Miss Frick photographed the Hofvijver, a body of water which borders one side of the Mauritshuis (it would sit to the left of the buildings in the top photograph), as well as other sights in The Hague before leaving on September 17th for stops in Haarlem, Amsterdam, Utrecht, and Middelburg.

The Frick Collection contains exceptional Dutch works of its own, including three Vermeers and three Rembrandts, along with works by Hals, Cuyp, Hobbema, and Wouwerman. Henry Clay Frick's acquisition of Old Master paintings began with Rembrandt and ended with Vermeer. Frick acquired the Portrait of a Young Artist (now attributed to a follower of Rembrandt) through Arthur Tooth & Sons in 1899.

Frick’s purchase of Portrait of a Young Artist ushered in a new phase of his collecting, which had previously focused on French academic and Barbizon painters. Just two years later, in 1901, Frick acquired Vermeer’s Girl Interrupted at Her Music.

Both of these artists figured into later acquisitions (Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait and Polish Rider, 1906 and 1910, and Vermeer’s Officer and Laughing Girl, 1911) culminating with Frick’s final purchase, Vermeer’s Mistress and Maid in 1919.

Of all the above acquisitions, only the final one, Mistress and Maid, was purchased while Frick lived at One East 70th Street, now home to The Frick Collection. Diaries maintained by Frick’s secretary at that house tell the story of Frick’s pursuit of the painting, which began in late February 1919.

One month later, the acquisition was still uncertain.

But within days, the Vermeer was offered for sale at 650,000 florins, or $263,000 (the diary entry incorrectly gives the amount at 650 florins).

By August, Frick owned the painting. When it arrived in the United States, Frick brought it to his summer house in Prides Crossing, Massachusetts, so that he could enjoy it until the family returned to New York in the fall.

Unfortunately, there were no photographs taken of the Frick Residence before Frick's death in 1919; however, these photographs taken in 1927 reflect the Frick residence as it was during his lifetime. The Rembrandt paintings were hung together on the north wall of the West Gallery.

The three Vermeer paintings were hung in close proximity to one another along the same wall of the West Gallery.

Credits: Story

Exhibition created by The Frick Collection and Frick Art Reference Library Archives. Text and design by Julie Ludwig and Susan Chore.

All materials shown, with the exception of The Frick Collection works of art, can be found within The Frick Collection and Frick Art Reference Library Archives. Please direct inquiries to

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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