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Anna Hyatt Huntington

(1876—1973)


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(1876–1973).

Sculptor and collector. Known for bronze animals and monumental equestrian statues, she fused detailed naturalism with lively motion. In Reaching Jaguar (Metropolitan Museum, 1906), a life-size animal perches on the edge of a boulder, endangering its balance with a paw extended downward. Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Anna Vaughn Hyatt received her earliest training as a sculptor from her sister Harriet and exhibited forty animal sculptures in her first one-person exhibition, in Boston, before moving to New York in 1902. There she studied for about two years at the Art Students League with George Gray Barnard, Gutzon Borglum, and Hermon MacNeil. From 1903, while sharing a studio, she collaborated with Abastenia St. Leger Eberle on several works. In 1907 she sailed for Europe, where she lived in France and Italy for three years. In Paris in 1910 she modeled her first equestrian statue, the Joan of Arc that she revised and enlarged in 1915 for a site on New York's Riverside Drive. The over-life-size young martyr strikes a defiant pose, standing in her stirrups to raise her sword as her massive horse drives forward. After 1914 she worked mainly in a studio on family property at Annisquam, on the Massachusetts shore, before returning to New York in 1920.

In 1923, on her forty-seventh birthday, she married Archer M. Huntington (1870–1955), heir to a vast railroad fortune, scholar and poet, founder of the Hispanic Society of America, art collector, and philanthropist. After she was diagnosed with tuberculosis four years later, they lived in several salubrious locations as she cured her disease while continuing to work with little interruption. Planning to build a winter home, in 1930 they purchased four South Carolina plantations near Myrtle Beach and the following year, converted much of their nine-thousand-acre parcel into a nature refuge and public sculpture park. Offering, as the couple intended, a representative survey of American figurative sculpture and today a National Historic Landmark, Brookgreen Gardens holds some nine hundred works, displayed in a 350-acre garden as well as indoor galleries. After settling in 1939 on a large farm near Redding, Connecticut, the following year the Huntingtons gave their Manhattan townhouse to the National Academy of Design for use as the organization's headquarters. Having continued to work well into her eighties, she died at the Connecticut estate, now the Collis P. Huntington State Park (named for her father-in-law) where some of her sculptures may be seen. A nephew, widely published art historian A(lpheus) Hyatt Mayor (1901–80), son of her sculptor-sister, Harriet Hyatt Mayor (1868–1960), served as curator of prints at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for twenty years, beginning in 1946. Born in Salem, Massachusetts, his mother produced portrait busts, reliefs, and commemorative medals. She died in Bethel, Connecticut.

Subjects: Art.


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