CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

The Frick art reference library’s Dutch cousin: Frederik Johannes Lugt

Exhibition: 1 January - 15 May 2010

Information from the museum website, 3 February 2010

Frederik (Frits) Johannes Lugt (1884–1970) is known to connoisseurs of Old Master drawings for his discerning eye and the exceptional collection of more than 37,000 works on paper that forms the core of the Fondation Custodia, which he founded in Paris in 1947. His legacy to art history and the history of collecting reaches well beyond this achievement, however, because of his role in establishing the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie (RKD, or The Netherlands Institute for Art History) in The Hague, and because of the invaluable concordances of auction catalogues and collectors’ marks that he published and that are still used by scholars today. With little formal education, but the luxury of financial stability that came with his marriage to the daughter of a coal magnate, Lugt devoted his life to the advancement of the study of art. In doing so, he proved himself to be a kindred spirit to his almost exact contemporary, Helen Clay Frick, who founded this Library.

Well before Frits Lugt came to live in the United States during World War II, he was aware of the benefits of partnership with his American “cousin.” Not only did his research agent C.W.E. van Haaften spend months at the Library compiling information about the Frick’s catalogues, but Lugt himself sought the advice of Head Librarian Ethelwyn Manning as to how he could most effectively present the entries on the printed page. During the war years, Lugt’s personal contact with the Library and The Frick Collection took different forms. In one instance, he agreed to give a lecture on art sales catalogues and in 1943 he was among dozens of art historians designated by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) to advise the War Department’s Roberts Commission on the protection of cultural treasures in areas of Europe devastated by war.

The exhibition brochure is available for download here.

>This exhibition was developed, designed, fabricated, and installed with the help of: Cynthia Biber, Julie Di Filippo, Felix Esquivel, Pinky Fung, George Koelle, Kelli Piotrowski, Inge Reist, Louisa Wood Ruby, and Don Swanson.