By Leon Pascucci
October 2, 2016: Another tastemaker in the life of Jackie Kennedy was Mrs Charles (Jayne) Wrightsman (above left), wife of an oil and gas tycoon and both major donors to the White House restoration project and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Wrightsman gallery, partially designed by Stéphane Boudin, assembled the finest 18th century French period rooms and furnishings in the USA, reflecting the Wrightman's passion for collecting antique French furnishings of the highest caliber. Their New York, London and Palm Beach homes (where they were neighbors of the Joseph Kennedys and where JFK swam in their heated pool), all designed by Boudin set a standard of unrivaled excellence.
Jayne was a behind the scenes influence in Jackie's White House project, brokering a truce with Sister Parish when she threatened to resign the project due to what she perceived as Boudin's interference, and underwriting the complete and costly renovation of the Blue Room (below) in January, 1963. Jayne also worked as a kind of "shop hound," seeking out fine French antiques in Paris for Jackie's approval. Much as with Bunny Mellon, another influential tastemaker to Jackie, Mrs Kennedy didn't entertain her women friends, she put them to work for the White House as JB West observed.
Jayne served on Jackie's Fine Arts Committee for the White House, and she and her husband arranged the initial introduction to Jackie Kennedy of Henry Du Pont. Years before, it was Jayne who introduced Boudin to Senator Kennedy's young wife. Jayne opened many doors for Jackie and they remained lifelong friends. Jayne still resides in her New York apartment.
The Wrightsmans avoided publicity but her connoisseurship particularly of French period furniture was an enormous help and support for the Kennedy restoration. Refer to "Designing Camelot" by James Archer Abbott for a more in depth look at Jayne Wrightsman's involvement in the Kennedy White House restoration.
Jayne was very active in seeking antique furniture in Paris for the Kennedy's White House Yellow Oval Room (below) along with Boudin.
Images courtesy JFK Library.