As patrons of the Met, the Wrightsmans stuffed 13 interval rooms with 18th- and 19th-century French sofas, chairs, tables, cupboards, desks, porcelain, carpets, clocks, candelabra, lamps, chandeliers, mirrors and wall paneling, a lot of it made for the salons of Louis XV, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
The Met named the suite the Wrightsman Galleries for French Decorative Arts. The contents have been documented in a five-volume catalog, “The Wrightsman Collection,” printed in 1965 and 1966 by the Met and written by Francis J.B. Watson.
“Charles and Jayne Wrightsman little by little have assembled a collection of furniture and related works of art that may be favorably compared with the great national collections,” James J. Rorimer, the Met’s director at the time, wrote in an introduction.
Jane Kirkman Larkin was born on Oct. 21, 1919, in Flint, Mich., one of 4 youngsters of Frederick and Aileen Larkin. Her father headed a building firm. When Jane was about 12, her dad and mom break up up. The mom and youngsters moved to Los Angeles. Jane, who added a “y” to her given identify, attended Los Angeles High School.
She had numerous jobs and led a busy social life. In a 2003 profile, Vanity Fair stated she was widespread with “socialites, playboys and aspiring film stars.” She met Mr. Wrightsman at a cocktail party and they have been married on March 28, 1944. He died on May 27, 1986, at the age of 90. Mrs. Wrightsman had no speedy household survivors. Two brothers, Frederick Jr. and Lawrence, and a sister, Katherine, had died beforehand.
For most of her married life, Mrs. Wrightsman shied away from publicity. Later, she appeared extra typically at fund-raisers and museum capabilities. When her pal Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis died in 1994, Mrs. Wrightsman gave the Met an 1817 portrait of the French statesman Talleyrand by Pierre-Paul Prud’hon in her reminiscence.
Besides donating Monet and Delacroix work, the Wrightsmans over time gave the Met works by Renoir, Vermeer, El Greco, Rubens, Georges da La Tour, Jacques-Louis David and Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. Virtually all of them had been displayed within the Wrightsman houses for years, offering a elegant atmosphere for dinner events and quiet afternoons.
“It is important that these were not mere checkbook transactions, in which paintings moved directly from the dealer’s gallery or auction room to the Met,” John Russell, The Times artwork critic, wrote in 1986. “Many of them were held for 10, 15 or even 20 years. Lived with, they were scrutinized every day, at all seasons, and (not least) in all humors, before they went to the Met.”
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