There has always been an important affinity between great museums and distinguished connoisseurs of art. It is a relationship of mutual enrichment but one of special importance to the museums, since traditionally they gain their finest treasures from enlightened and generous collectors. So it has been in the association of The Metropolitan Museum of Art with Jayne and Charles Wrightsman, who, in a relatively short period of time—beginning in 1952—amassed the finest private collection in America of the decorative arts of the ancien régime. Mr. Wrightsman was first elected to the Board of Trustees of the Metropolitan in 1956; upon his retirement in 1975 he was made Trustee Emeritus and Mrs. Wrightsman was elected to the Board. Throughout these years the Wrightsmans' active interest in the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts has resulted in splendid gifts that have enabled the Museum to create an unparalleled and truly encyclopedic collection of French eighteenth-century interiors and furnishings. Now, with the publication of this guidebook, the Wrightsman Galleries and their dazzling contents are presented to readers and visitors alike, all of whom may enjoy the generosity and taste of two great, spirited patrons of the Museum.