Paint box with nude study

Helena de Kay

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 773

Helena de Kay is better known for her role as a cultural tastemaker in the late 19th-century New York art world than for her paintings. This rare survivor of her artistic practice as a student at the National Academy of Design, in the 1870s, reveals much about training for women at the time. The nude study in the paint box dates the work to around 1871, the year when life classes were first open to women at the Academy. She also studied privately with Winslow Homer and John La Farge, specializing in floral imagery. A magnetic personality, de Kay (later Gilder) greatly enriched the progressive cultural landscape of late-19th-century New York through many contributions, including establishing the famous Friday salons at the Gilders’ home near Union Square, The Studio; organizing a Saturday-morning sketch club; and co-founding both the Art Students League and the Society of American Artists. Her leading presence was directly responsible for the large number of women involved in those organizations

Paint box with nude study, Helena de Kay (1846–1916), Oil on wood, American

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