May 8 Mon Frick The Pursuit of Immortality: Masterpieces from the Scher Collection of Portrait Medals

Small scale art

The high end of numismatics will be on show at the Frick, a rare opportunity to see exquisitely formed portraits and biographical scenes stamped into an inch of metal by European masters of the craft.

Antonio di Puccio Pisano, called Pisanello (ca. 1395–ca. 1455) Leonello d’Este, Marquess of Ferrara (1407-1450), ca. 1445 Copper alloy, cast; 68.9 mm The Frick Collection; Gift of Stephen K. and Janie Woo Scher, 2016 Photo: Michael Bodycomb

Antonio di Puccio Pisano, called Pisanello (ca. 1395–ca. 1455)
Leonello d’Este, Marquess of Ferrara (1407-1450), ca. 1445
Copper alloy, cast; 68.9 mm
The Frick Collection; Gift of Stephen K. and Janie Woo
Scher, 2016
Photo: Michael Bodycomb

THE PURSUIT OF IMMORTALITY:
MASTERPIECES FROM THE SCHER COLLECTION OF PORTRAIT MEDALS
May 9 through September 10, 2017

Celebrating the largest acquisition in the Frick’s history– a gift of portrait medals from the incomparable collection of Stephen K. and Janie Woo Scher– this exhibition explores one of the most important artistic inventions of the Renaissance.

Over the course of six decades, Stephen K. Scher—a collector, scholar, and
curator—has assembled the most comprehensive and significant private collection of portrait medals in the world, part of which he and his wife, Janie Woo Scher,gave to The Frick Collection last year. To celebrate the Schers’ generous gift of what is the largest acquisition in the museum’s history, the Frick presents more than one hundred of the finest examples from their collection in The Pursuit of Immortality, on view from May 9 through September 10, 2017.

The exhibition is organized by Aimee Ng, Associate Curator, The Frick Collection, and Stephen K. Scher. Comments Director Ian Wardropper, “Henry Clay Frick had an abiding interest in portraiture as expressed in the paintings, sculpture, enamels, and works on paper he acquired. The Scher medals will coalesce beautifully with these holdings, being understood in our galleries within the broader contexts of European art and culture. At the same time, the intimate scale of the institution will offer a superb platform for the medals to be appreciated as an independent art form, one long overdue for fresh attention and public appreciation.”

The exhibition, to take place in the lower-level galleries, showcases superlative examples from Italy, Germany, France, the Netherlands, England, and other regions together with related sculptures and works on paper from the Frick’s permanent collection, helping to illuminate the place of medals in a larger history of art and their centrality in the history of portraiture in Western art. A short film will demonstrate one method by which medals were made, and visitors will have the opportunity to handle a reproduction of one of the most famous medals of the Renaissance.

Pierre-Jean David d’Angers (1788–1856) Josephine Bonaparte (1763–1814); Empress Consort of France 1804–10; Queen Consort of Italy 1805–10), ca. 1832 Gilt copper alloy, cast; 177.8 mm Scher Collection; Promised gift to The Frick Collection Photo: Michael Bodycomb

Pierre-Jean David d’Angers (1788–1856)
Josephine Bonaparte (1763–1814); Empress Consort of
France 1804–10; Queen Consort of Italy 1805–10), ca. 1832
Gilt copper alloy, cast; 177.8 mm
Scher Collection; Promised gift to The Frick Collection
Photo: Michael Bodycomb

ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT ARTISTIC INVENTIONS OF THE RENAISSANCE
Portrait medals are one of the most important artistic inventions of the Italian Renaissance and flourished as an art form across Europe for four centuries. Created to be exchanged and distributed as tokens of identity—sometimes among intimate circles of friends, sometimes from powerful rulers to their subjects—they make the absent present, evoking the fullness of the individuals they commemorate through the likeness, imagery, and text they carry.

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