We have had a lot of snow this week. It is still a novelty for the two of us. Waking up and seeing a white world is like a 5yr old walking into the living room on Christmas morning and finding the doll she wants under the tree.
We have wasted a lot of time playing in the snow this week. By Thursday we decided it was time to be productive. We are still a little shy of the cold weather, so we have been planning short but frequent outings.
During the summer we decided to experience the city by walking most of the Manhattan neighborhoods, saving the museums for the colder weather. This was the day to brave-up, confront the cold and go about our business of exploring New York.
Our selection was the Frick. There isn’t a good transit path between here and there, so this day it would be mostly walk. Not too far, about 2 miles, but it would be cold.
We headed north along 8th avenue, past the Christmas Village at Columbus Circle and ventured up along the west side of Central Park to 66th. There we joined other brave and cold souls who were also enjoying the beauty of a snow-covered park. The Horse drawn buggies moving slowly through the snow looked as if they belonged in another era.
We met a couple who were lost in the park and seeking directions. He was a Brit from Australia, she was from France. I am always amazed at the international feeling of this city. We helped them find their bearings then continued along the path toward 5th avenue.
We emerged from the park a couple of blocks from the museum known as the Frick Collection.
This museum was built as the home of Henry Clay Frick, an industrialist, and chairman of United States Steel. Frick and Andrew Carnegie were both friends and foes. It is told that when Carnegie and Frick were both near death Carnegie sent a messenger to Frick asking that they make amends. Legend has it that Frick told the messenger, “Tell your boss I will meet him in hell.” So much for the gentlemanly conduct of yesteryear.
The Frick collection began with his purchase of a small museum on 5th avenue. He immediately tore down the building to build his home, and privatized the collection.
The home is lavish. Only the first floor is open to the public, but it was built by famous architect, Thomas Hastings in the beautiful Neo-classical style, so prevalent in New York at the turn of the 20th century.
Facing 5th avenue is a large elevated garden that is the focal point of interior windows. Looking outward through the windows one sees the garden, with central park as a backdrop. No photos allowed so, use your imagination.
The home was decked with 18th century French furniture, porcelains, enamels, oriental rugs, and carvings.
One area, added after Frick’s death contained no artwork and was the only area where photos were allowed. It is representative of the grandeur throughout the home. The beautiful enclosure seemed to have been built for prayerful meditation, but it crossed my mind that this has probably never been freely available to anyone for that purpose.
The collection is small but impressive. Though he did not leave notes regarding his choice of art, the collection is mostly in the classical style by the finest European artists. It does not include modernism and has only one or two impressionists.
The collection was amazing. Many of the paintings once belonged to royalty. The pieces came in sizes, small to extravagantly large. They graced the walls of each room of the ground floor.
As we left the Frick Collection we decided it was the perfect place to see an exquisite collection without the massive expanse of the Met or even the MoMA.
Tired and hungry we strolled down Madison Avenue until we found a small coffee diner where we stopped for a sandwich, pastry and warm coffee. It was a good day as we boarded the subway for a short ride to 8th avenue and a brisk walk home.