Over the course of fifty years-from the 1950s until his death in 2010 at the age of eighty-one-former Frick Collection Director Charles A. Ryskamp (1928-2010) assembled an extraordinary personal trove of European drawings. Reflecting on his pursuits in 2009, Dr. Ryskamp remarked, “I have always believed that giving, as much as acquiring, is the principle of my collecting.”
This spirit of sharing is embodied in a group of ten superb drawings that he bequeathed to the Frick, selected from among his large and varied collection by Anne L. Poulet, Director Emerita, and curators Colin B. Bailey and Susan Grace Galassi.
Other sheets were donated to The Morgan Library & Museum, where Dr. Ryskamp served as Director from 1969 to 1987, or auctioned at Sotheby’s for the benefit of Princeton University, where he began his career as a professor of literature. The works bequeathed to the Frick enlarged the museum’s holdings in drawings them by nearly a third, while complementing the permanent collection’s focus on landscape and figural subjects.
This winter and spring the Frick celebrates Charles Ryskamp’s generosity-and discerning taste-with an exhibition of the works from his bequest. The drawings, which have never before been shown at the Frick, will be presented in the Cabinet, a space created by Dr. Ryskamp during his tenure as Director from 1987 to 1997 and intended especially for the display of works on paper. The installation is accompanied by two oil-on-paper studies of clouds by John Constable, which Dr. Ryskamp was instrumental in bringing to the Collection. A Passion for Drawings: Charles Ryskamp’s Bequest to The Frick Collection wasorganized by Katie L. Steiner and Nicholas Wise, Curatorial Assistants, The Frick Collection.
Illustration: Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759-1840), Plum Branches Intertwined, 1802-4, watercolor on vellum, 31.9 x 26.3 cm, The Frick Collection, bequest of Charles A. Ryskamp, 2010; Photo: Michael Bodycomb.