When Jayne Wrightsman, a prominent New York socialite who appeared on ARTnews’s Top 200 Collectors list each year between 1990 and 1998, died this past April at age 99, the question for many was what would happen with her significant collection. Now, several hundred works from her holdings are headed to one of the world’s top art institutions.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has announced that it has received a massive bequest of artworks from Wrightsman, a longtime trustee at the museum. The bequest includes more than 375 paintings, sculptures, works on paper, decorative art objects, and rare books.
A self-taught connoisseur and collector of 18th-century French decorative arts, Wrightsman collected work by Old Masters, in particular El Greco and Johannes Vermeer, and Impressionists, notably Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Over the years, she and her husband Charles gave the Met 1,275 works, including famed pieces by Vermeer, Georges de la Tour, El Greco, and Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, effectively transforming the museum’s European holdings.
Her bequest could dramatically alter the Met’s collection once again. Included in it are 13 French period rooms, as well as works by Georges Seurat, Anthony van Dyck, Tiepolo, Eugène Delacroix, and many more. (Additionally, Wrightsman’s bequest also includes plans for the contribution of money to the Wrightsman Fund, which supports acquisitions of works of art from Western Europe and Great Britain created between 1500 and 1850.) A selection of works from the bequest is set to go on view on November 15.
“Jayne Wrightsman’s extraordinary bequest is a capstone to more than half a century’s worth of inspired acts of generosity,” Max Hollein, the Met’s director, said in a statement.
See a slideshow below of works from the Wrightsman bequest.