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France Honors Elizabeth Mugar Eveillard with the Medal of Chevalier of the Legion of Honor

French Ambassador Philippe Étienne, Frick Board of Trustees Chair Betty Eveillard, and Jean-Marie Eveillard

New York, NY (March 4, 2020) On Monday, March 2, Betty Eveillard, Chair of The Frick Collection’s Board of Trustees, received the medal of chevalier of the Legion of Honor (Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur) in a private ceremony held at the museum and officiated by French Ambassador Philippe Étienne. The Legion of Honor, France’s premier award, was founded by Napoleon Bonaparte to recognize eminent accomplishments of service to France. The Order is made up of three ranks—chevalier, officier, commandeur—and two high offices (“dignités”) grand officier and grand croix. A Presidential award, the Legion of Honor may be given to foreign (non-French) citizens in recognition of actions benefitting the country of France or, more broadly, achievements which uphold its ideals. American honorees include Renée Fleming, Wynton Marsalis, Barbra Streisand, and the late Elie Wiesel, as well as hundreds of World War II veterans.

Eveillard has been an active supporter of the Frick for several years, having served on the Board since 2015, and elected Chair in 2017. In addition to her leadership, she and her husband, Jean-Marie, a former Frick Trustee, have supported several Frick initiatives, including those that focus on French fine and decorative arts. They funded exhibitions such as Watteau to Degas: French Drawings from the Frits Lugt Collection (2009–10) and Masterpieces of French Faience: Selections from the Sidney R. Knafel Collection (2018–19). Comments Ian Wardropper, “We are delighted that Betty’s multi-faceted support of French culture has been recognized with the internationally esteemed award of the Legion of Honor. The Frick has greatly benefited from her experience in non-profit leadership with many other organizations that support arts and education, and we offer her our warm congratulations for this well-deserved designation.”

The Eveillards are avid collectors, with a particular eye for French drawings and works on paper from the sixteenth to the early twentieth centuries. A highlight of their holdings is Fragonard’s La Coquette, which was included in the 2016 exhibition on the artist organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art. A drawing from their holdings was shown at the Musée d’Orsay this fall in the exhibition Degas at the Opera, which opens in March at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Eveillard is a board member of the Friends of Chantilly, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, and Master Drawings Inc. She is also a member of the visiting committees for the Fairfax Murray Society for the Department of Drawings and Prints at The Morgan Library & Museum, the Smith College Museum of Art, and the Department of Paper Conservation at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, serving as Co-Chair.

She sat on the board of the Glimmerglass Opera, acting as its Chairman for several years. A special aspect of her patronage was her dedication to French operatic repertoire and French subjects. The support of the Eveillards has helped the company present rarities such as the French versions of Lucia di Lammermoor, Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice, Cherubini’s Médée, John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles (also presented at Versailles), and the upcoming production of Rossini’s Guillaume Tell. She is currently a Managing Director of the Metropolitan Opera, where the Eveillards supported presentations of Werther and Cendrillon, both by the French composer Massenet. Through the World Monuments Fund, they supported the restoration of the public rooms of the Opéra Comique in Paris.

The Eveillards have also enabled the Partner University Fund (PUF) to aid academic organizations in their pursuit of meaningful transatlantic projects, such as a collaboration between Columbia University and the Université Paris-Sorbonne undertaking the digital study of medieval musical iconography. Another partnership supported the pairing of New York University with faculty of the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in an examination of French and American approaches to history and sociology. The results were a handbook, student and faculty exchanges, and several conferences and workshops. With the assistance of the Eveillards, PUF also fostered a program of literature and theater studies co-hosted by the University of Georgia and the Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, which resulted an immersive theater installation in Georgia, journal contributions, and other projects.

Originally from Boston, MA, Eveillard is a graduate of Smith College and Harvard Business School. She served on the Smith College Board for thirteen years. During the four years that she chaired the board, Smith conducted a search for a new President, developed the plan for a major library renovation, and undertook a capital campaign. For most of her distinguished thirty-year career in investment banking, she was a managing director at Lehman Brothers and PaineWebber. In addition to the many cultural leadership affiliations mentioned above, she has served on several public and private corporate boards, including Limited Too, later Tween Brands; Birks Group Inc.; and Retail Ventures, then the owner of DSW. 

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