Catharine Lorillard Wolfe, 1876 

Alexandre Cabanel, Oil on Canvas

Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, 

Bequest of Catharine Lorillard Wolfe,

 1887 (87.15.82)

The portrait represents Catharine Lorillard Wolfe (1828–1887), the first woman elected Benefactor ofthe Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY. The portrait was part of her bequest to the Metropolitan.


Catharine Lorillard Wolfe


Catharine Lorillard Wolfe (1828-1887) was a prominent New York philanthropist and art collector, and the only woman among the 106 founders of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. In addition to bequeathing her painting collection to the museum, Ms. Wolfe left an endowment to Grace Church in Manhattan to promote “women’s work.” At the urging of Rector Dr. William Reed Huntington and several parishioners, the Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club was established in 1896. The purpose at the time was to provide aid, counsel and exhibition opportunities to young women artists in New York City. 

Through the years, the Club’s focus changed to reflect the members’ professional standing and interests. Today’s members are represented in museums, prestigious art collections, the Who’s Who series in American art and in homes around the world. Their media include oil, watercolor, pastel , graphics and sculpture. Women artists may apply to the Membership Committee for consideration as a full artist member after three acceptances into the Annual Open Juried Exhibition within a ten-year period.

Our Club’s major event is the Annual Open Juried Exhibition held in the National Arts Club. This event provides opportunities for members and non-members alike to show their work in the heart of the world’s art capital, New York City, and over $8000 in awards is given each year. In keeping with Ms.Wolfe’s interests, the Preview Reception for the Annual Exhibit benefits a travel fund to help support curators of The Metropolitan Museum of Art as they research art collections across the country. A Museum curator also serves on the Jury of Awards for the Annual Exhibit and gives a talk at both the Preview Reception and the Awards Dinner.

In addition to the Open Juried Exhibition, the Club sponsors the Members Annual exhibition each spring. Occasional lectures and demonstrations are open to Members, Associates, Donors, Patrons and Benefactors. Come join us. To keep abreast of scheduled events, men and women are invited to  become an Associate, a Donor, a Patron or a Benefactor. You may also want to consider funding an award for excellence in art, perhaps in the name of a friend or family member. Other ways to participate in our Club might be to share your artistic expertise with us, host a slide presentation or demonstration, volunteer for a committee and, last but not least, collect fine art.