The programs of the Foundation reflect the interests and patronage of its founders, Gladys Krieble Delmas and Jean Paul Delmas. Gladys Krieble Delmas grew up in an academic family and studied at Vassar College, the Sorbonne, and Cambridge University. She worked as a journalist, broadcasting on French national radio, serving as literary editor for Presses de la Cité, and publishing in American journals and newspapers. Throughout her life she retained a lively interest in belles lettres, art criticism, and political analysis. Jean Paul Delmas, a graduate of French schools including the Paris Conservatory, was a successful publisher and businessman. An ardent reader and a talented linguist, he commanded five European languages and studied Japanese. Many aspects of the humanities and performing arts interested him; music and dance were his great enthusiasms.
Together Gladys Krieble and Jean Paul Delmas assembled a small but select rare book collection and a choice collection of modern art, mostly from artists they knew personally. Patrons of New York’s premier museums, they also frequented the ballet and concerts of early and modern music. Concerned generally with encouraging excellence in scholarship and the arts, they were particularly interested in wide access to research library collections, the quality of dance performance, and the study and performance of early music.
Gladys Krieble and Jean Paul Delmas were devoted to two cities: New York and Venice. They shared the belief that New York’s status as an artistic center is essential to its spirit and critical to its economic vitality. In Venice, they supported numerous projects of restoration. To encourage an intellectual interest in the city, Gladys Krieble Delmas established The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation in 1976 and inaugurated programs of annual grants for United States and Commonwealth scholars studying Venetian history and civilization. With contributions from the estates of Jean Paul Delmas in 1988 and Gladys Krieble Delmas in 1991, the Foundation, in addition to continuing the program for scholars in Venice, now recognizes and supports the major interests of the donors’ lives: the humanities, research libraries, and the performing arts in New York City.