4. The Frick Collection
When Pittsburgh industrialist Henry Clay Frick moved to New York City in 1905, he initially rented one of the Triple Palaces built by Henry Vanderbilt, but when his partner-turned-rival Andrew Carnegie built a fabulous mansion on Fifth Avenue (now the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum), Frick was determined to one up him. He hunted for the most prominent location on Millionaires Row and hired Thomas Carrère of Carrère and Hastings to build him a grand mansion inspired by Parisian hôtel particuliers, which he would fill with his art collection — one of the finest in the world.
Carrère drew inspiration from the Hôtel de Soubise in Paris and created a dramatic layout of rooms with enfilades leading to the garden, the courtyard, or a particular work of art. Frick then hired British decorator Sir Charles Carrick Allom to design the interiors, which feature paneled walls, cornices, and grand fireplaces. He created a whole room dedicated to Fragonard, filled with 14 panels that the artist had painted for Madame du Barry, Louis XV’s mistress. Frick bequeathed the mansion and his incredible collection to the city upon his death and to this day it’s one of New York’s finest art museums as well as one of the city’s most impressive Beaux-Arts buildings.