Paintings by Van Dyck and Delacroix Are Among a Trove of Almost 400 Works Heading to the Met From a Late Trustee

“The Met would not be what it is today without Jayne and Charles Wrightsman," said the museum's director, Max Hollein.

Francesco Guardi, The Island of San Michele, Venice, 1770s.

A whopping gift of artworks and some $80 million from late trustee Jayne Wrightsman announced today will benefit numerous departments at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Selections from the trove of 375 works will go on view in the galleries this week. The gift of artworks will enrich the museum’s holdings of European paintings, European sculpture and decorative arts, Asian art, and Islamic art as well as the library; it brings the number of objects the Wrightsmans have given the Met to more than 1,275. Jayne Wrightsman, who died in April at 99, was a self-taught art collector, as was her husband Charles, who died in 1986 and was president of Standard Oil of Kansas. Both served on the museum’s board for decades.

Among the new additions is a 1636 Anthony Van Dyck portrait of France’s Queen Henrietta Maria and Eugéne Delacroix’s Rebecca and the Wounded Ivanhoe (1823), as well as works by Francesco Guardi, Théodore Gericault, Georges Seurat, Giovanni Batista Tiepolo, and Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun.

Eugène Delacroix, <i>Rebecca and the Wounded Ivanhoe</i> (1823). Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Eugène Delacroix, Rebecca and the Wounded Ivanhoe (1823). Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Beginning on November 15 and through February 16, 22 paintings gifted by the Wrightsmans over the years by artists including Canaletto, Delacroix, van Dyck, Gericault, Tiepolo and Seurat will be on view in a devoted gallery, as well as numerous objects of European decorative arts, including 17th-century Italian urns and and an 18th-century inkstand. Also on view will be works on paper, such as a portrait of Marie Antoinette by Vigée Le Brun, and rare books.

“The Met would not be what it is today without Jayne and Charles Wrightsman,” said director Max Hollein in an announcement of the gift, calling it “a capstone to more than half a century’s worth of inspired acts of generosity.”

The Wrightsmans had already given the museum many millions of dollars. The artworks they had previously given (or supported the purchase of) include works by giants like David, Delacroix, Monet, Rubens, and Vermeer, many of which passed through the hands of royal collectors and are now cornerstones of the Met galleries where they hang. They also gave what the New York Times, in Jayne’s obituary, called “perhaps the finest collection of 18th-century French decorative arts in America,” which are housed in galleries named for the Wrightsmans. In addition to her abundant gifts to the Met, Jayne also supported the British Museum, the Louvre, and the Hermitage.

A fund established by the Wrightsmans’ $80 million gift will continue to underwrite purchases of European and British art from 1500 to 1850.

See more from the Wrightsmans gift, below. 

Johannes Vermeer, Study of a Young Woman, (ca. 1665–67). Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Théodore Gericault, Horsewoman, 1820 or later.

Anthony van Dyck, Queen Henrietta Maria (1636). Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


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