The National Gallery of Art announced a gift of $10 million from the family of Victoria P. Sant, former president of the National Gallery of Art, to fund the acquisition of work by women.
An endowment fund, the Victoria P. Sant Fund for Women Artists, will further the National Gallery’s ongoing priority of acquiring more work by women, from historic works to living artists.
In an ongoing commitment to this work, many acquisitions over the past years expand the holdings of creations by women artists across genre and medium.
Two acquisitions of special significance were recently approved at the May 2022 Board of Trustees meeting: a portrait by Bolognese painter Lavinia Fontana (1552–1614), the first painting by an early modern Italian woman artist to enter the collection, and a small sculpture by Luisa Roldán (1652–1706) that is the first work by a woman sculptor created before 1850 to enter the collection.
“The National Gallery of Art and our millions of visitors have benefited tremendously from Vicki’s dedication to serving the American public,” said Kaywin Feldman, director of the National Gallery.
“It is exciting that we now have an endowment fund to help us acquire masterpieces by women artists, and one that will carry the name of such an exemplary advocate and leader. We look forward to adding important works by women artists from all eras to the collection and continuing the work which Vicki so passionately championed.”
The Victoria P. Sant Fund for Women Artists will be the cornerstone in the ongoing efforts to address the gap of women artists represented in the collection. Vicki Sant (1939–2018) was the first woman president of the National Gallery and a member of the Board of Trustees for 15 years. Future acquisitions will benefit from the generosity of her family, given in loving memory toward a cause so important to her.
The National Gallery intends to use this fund to expand the acquisitions of work by women as part of its commitment to increase holdings of works by these artists. In the past two years (May 2020 to May 2022), 50.6% of the works acquired by purchase were by artists of color, compared to just 12.6% in the two years prior (a 302% increase). During the same period, works by women artists comprised 35.5% of the total, compared to just 20.3% during the two years prior (a 75% increase).
Mr. Sant is co-founder and Chairman Emeritus of The AES Corporation, a Fortune 200 company that generates and distributes electrical power across the globe.
Prior to starting AES in 1981, Mr. Sant was Assistant Administrator for Energy Conservation and the Environment at the Federal Energy Administration. He was also the Director of the Energy Productivity Center, an energy research organization affiliated with the Mellon Institute at Carnegie-Mellon University, and a lecturer in Finance at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Roger W. Sant is the co-founder and Chairman of The Summit Foundation which concentrates on three areas of grantmaking: ocean conservation, where it has been focused on the restoration of the Mesoamerican Reef; equality for women and girls, particularly in Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, and portions of Mexico; and in improving the sustainability of cities in North America.
Mr. Sant served as a Regent of the Smithsonian Institution from 2001 to 2013 during which time he served as its first Board Chair. He is Vice Chair of the board of the World Wildlife Fund – U.S., which he previously chaired (1994-2000).
Mr. Sant is a member of the boards of the National Symphony Orchestra, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and the World Resources Institute. He is also a member of the Stanford Advisory Council for the Natural Capital Project and National Geographic’s Pristine Seas Advisory Board. Mr. Sant served on the Marriott International Board of Directors from 1994-2006.
Mr. Sant received a B.S. from Brigham Young University and an MBA with Distinction from the Harvard Business School and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is co-author of Creating Abundance – America’s Least-Cost Energy Strategy (1982).