Daniel Huntington


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Painter. Remembered particularly for mid-century allegorical, literary, and historical works, he also painted about a thousand portraits, as well as landscapes and genre scenes. Active for many years in the art life of his native New York, he served as president of the National Academy of Design for all but seven years of the period between 1862 and 1891 and as a founding vice president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1871 until 1903, except for two years. An organizer of the prestigious Century Club in 1847, he headed the group from 1879 until 1895. Huntington studied for a semester at Yale before transferring in 1833 to Hamilton College in upstate Clinton, New York. While studying there, he met Charles Loring Elliott, who offered instruction and encouragement. Without graduating, in 1835 he returned to New York to study with Samuel F. B. Morse and later with Henry Inman. He traveled in Europe with Henry Peters Gray in 1839–40, and between 1843 and 1845 he lived mostly in Rome. He again visited Europe on four subsequent occasions between 1851 and 1883. Between the first two trips abroad, he established his reputation with his most popular work, Mercy's Dream (Pennsylvania Academy, 1841; replicas in Corcoran Gallery, 1850, and Metropolitan Museum, 1858), illustrating an episode from John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. Widely distributed as an engraving, this image of an angel appearing to a swooning and alluringly pretty young woman appealed to contemporary taste with its sentimental Christian moralism, old master veneer, and romantic sweetness. As the public lost interest in pious themes after the Civil War, Huntington became a premier New York society portraitist. Although realistically detailed, his likenesses characteristically generalize and soften to create impressions of delicacy, virtue, and good taste. Although major changes of style and subject altered American painting before the end of the century, Huntington remained a revered personality until his death in New York.

Subjects: Art.

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