Paint box with nude study

Helena de Kay

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 773

De Kay (later Gilder) is better known for her role as a progressive cultural tastemaker in nineteenth-century New York than for her paintings. She established Friday salons at her home, known as The Studio, organized a Saturday-morning sketch club, and co-founded both the Art Students League and the Society of American Artists. Her magnetic personality and leadership were directly responsible for the large number of women involved in those organizations. This paint box, a rare survivor of her artistic practice, reveals much about training for women at the time. The nude study dates the work to around 1871, the year when life classes were first open to women at the National Academy of Design. De Kay also studied informally with Winslow Homer and John La Farge.

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

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