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Frick Purchases Its First Painting in Thirty Years

The Frick Collection has acquired its first work since 1991, a seven-foot-tall portrait of Prince Camillo Borghese by François-Pascal-Simon Gérard, an influential nineteenth-century artist who was popular at the time of the French Revolution. Gérard, whose works are in the permanent collection of the Louvre, was a student of the Neoclassical painter Jacques-Louis David.

“The last opportunity the Frick had to purchase a major French School painting was nearly thirty years ago, with the acquisition of [Jean-Antoine] Watteau’s Portal of Valenciennes,” director Ian Wardropper said. “Today, it is deeply rewarding to have the rare opportunity to bring to the museum such an important work as this one, a historic portrait we feel would have compelled Henry Clay Frick. While the portrait has been shown in Rome, it has never been seen publicly in America.”

Borghese was the brother-in-law of Napoleon Bonaparte and a prominent arts patron. His family was considered one of the most important within the Roman aristocracy. Today, many works from his family’s collection remain in the Greek and Roman holdings at the Louvre. Gérard’s role as portraitist to the Bonaparte family helped advance his career. Even after the fall of the French Empire in 1815, the artist continued to find work. The full-length portrait, which is the only known portrait of Borghese and the first work by Gérard to join the Frick’s collection, will be exhibited in October 2018.