A glorious gift of European artworks at NY’s Metropolitan Museum
Selections from the trove donated by the late Jayne Wrightsman includes stunning works by Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, Jean François de Troy, and Eugène Delacroix, writes Hakim Bishara.
She was a reputable New York socialite, a fashion icon, and one of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s greatest benefactors. Jayne Wrightsman, who died in April of this year at age 99, was a longtime donor and trustee who had gifted the museum hundreds of artworks during her lifetime. Last week, the Met announced that Wrightsman left it with one last sizeable gift: a bequest of $80 million in cash and more than 375 paintings, drawings, decorative art objects, and rare books.
On November 15, the Met installed a selection of works from Wrightsman’s bequest to pay tribute to her immense contribution to the Met’s collection in three of its galleries. The Department of European Paintings now features 22 paintings in Gallery 632, including works by Eugène Delacroix, Anthony van Dyck, Théodore Gericault, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, and Georges Seurat, among others.
The Department of Drawings and Prints exhibits works on paper from the Wrightsman Collection in Gallery 690, including a portrait of Marie Antoinette by Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, a pair of drawings by Louis de Carmontelle, and several rare bound books.
The Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts showcases 55 small objects in Gallery 545, from decorative tobacco snuffboxes to a French porcelain inkstand in the form of a pomegranate. Older works that were donated by Wrightsman and her husband, Charles Wrightsman (an oil executive who died in 1986), were marked with a blue sticker to highlight the couple’s previous donations (the couple has given more than 1,275 works to the Met over the years).