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Henry E. Huntington

(1850—1927)


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(b Oneonta, NY, 27 Feb. 1850; d Philadelphia, 23 May 1927).

American businessman, collector, and philanthropist. He made an enormous fortune, mainly in the railway industry, but by about 1910 he had retired from most of his business interests to devote himself to collecting art and books. In the remaining years of his life he built up a huge library of early books that ranks in importance with those of the great national collections. With art he was more selective, concentrating on British paintings of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In 1919 he signed a deed creating what is now the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens at his home at San Marino, California, his aim being ‘to promote and advance learning, the arts and sciences, and to promote the public welfare by founding, endowing and having maintained a library, art gallery, museum and park’. The chief glory of the art collection is the array of full-length British portraits in the main gallery—probably the finest group of such works to be seen anywhere in the world, including Gainsborough's Blue Boy (c.1770) and Reynolds's Mrs Siddons as the Tragic Muse (1784). Since Huntington's death the collection has expanded and now also has a good representation of American and French paintings. Huntington's cousin (later also his stepson), ArcherM.Huntington (1870–1955), a poet, Spanish scholar, and philanthropist, founded the Hispanic Society of America, New York, in 1908 and commissioned Sorolla y Bastida to paint mural panels for the interior. Archer's wife, AnnaHyattHuntington (1876–1973), was a sculptor of animal subjects in a traditional style. Her work includes an equestrian statue of El Cid (unveiled 1929) outside the Hispanic Society of America (another cast is in Seville). She continued working almost up to her death at the age of 97.

Subjects: Art.


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