Groundbreaking book on the Huntington family in Gilded Age America
Available in bookstores May 1
Complete PDFs now available for press
Above right: Shelley M. Bennett. Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.
April 2, 2013
SAN MARINO, Calif. —An author tour for The Art of Wealth: The Huntingtons in the Gilded Age,
by Shelley M. Bennett (May 2013, Huntington Library Press), which will
stop at about a dozen venues on both coasts of the United States and in
London, kicks off on April 10 with two talks at The Huntington Library,
Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Bennett speaks at 3 p.m. and
7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 10, in Friends’ Hall at The Huntington. [Editors
Note: Seating at both events is fully reserved, but reporters
interested in covering should contact press officers listed above.]
then travels to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the New
York Historical Society (for an event co-hosted by the Frick
Collection); and the National Portrait Gallery, London, among other
Jacket reviews by noted authors and historians describe The Art of Wealth as “fascinating,” “rigorously researched,” and a tale “to rival anything dreamed up by Edith Wharton or Henry James.”
powerful new insights into the collecting and philanthropy of the
Huntington family during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the
book examines the life of four Huntingtons: Railroad magnate Collis P.
Huntington (1821–1900); his widow, Arabella (1850–1924); her son, Archer
(1870–1955); and Collis’ nephew Henry Edwards Huntington (1850–1927),
who subsequently married Arabella and went on to create the institution
bearing his name.
Bennett’s research led her to
turn-of-the-century sources that had never been investigated before.
With more than 200 illustrations, many published for the first time, The Art of Wealth challenges much of the previous literature on the four principal characters, particularly Archer and Arabella.
art historian by training, Bennett writes sweepingly about the
Huntingtons’ art acquisitions, the large and lavish homes they purchased
and built, their luxurious travel, and, ultimately, the desires of each
of them to leave something significant behind. The book reveals
riveting details about Arabella’s monumental rags-to-riches rise and
American high society’s unwillingness to accept her into that world;
Henry and Arabella’s prenuptial agreement; and the extent to which
Henry, and his uncle Collis before him, worked to please Arabella, the
woman at the center of it all.
Note: For PDFs, review copies, seating for author tour, and interviews,
please contact The Huntington’s communications office.]
April 10 – The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
April 29 – The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
May 1 – The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
May 2 – The Frick Collection, New York, NY
May 4 – Hispanic Society of America, New York, N.Y.
May 16 – Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Conn.
June 6 – Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Calif.
June 15 – Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, Calif.
May 8 – Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London
May 9 – National Portrait Gallery, London
May 13 – The Wallace Collection, London
fascinating account of one of the great plutocratic and philanthropic
dynasties of gilded age America. Across three generations, the
Huntington family—Collis, Arabella, Henry and Archer—were entrepreneurs
and investors, conspicuous consumers, and energetic collectors. They
were also munificent benefactors in New York City and in Southern
California; they were pioneering in the legal structures they created to
give effect to their generosity; and their private lives were as
complex and intricate as their finances. Here is a true account of
American riches to rival anything dreamed up by Edith Wharton or Henry
—David Cannadine, Dodge Professor of History, Princeton University and author of Mellon: An American Life (2006)
rigorously researched study of what must be one of America’s most
exceptional collecting families. Collis, Arabella, Archer, and Henry E.
Huntington together constituted an amazing quartet of hunters and
gatherers. Documenting their extraordinary string of art purchases,
Shelley Bennett has put together a meticulous account of their varying
tastes, cultural ambitions, multiple philanthropies, and innovative
—Neil Harris, Preston & Sterling Morton Professor Emeritus of History and of Art History, University of Chicago
thoughtful and impeccably researched volume gives new meaning to the
notion of nouveaux riches. The saga of the dynasty founded by Collis P.
Huntington, a penniless easterner who made good in the gold rush and the
“Railroad Era,” is recounted with surprising honesty but also with a
convincing sympathy for what this family accomplished as collectors,
builders, and donors. The volume’s carefully selected and beautifully
reproduced images convey the complexity, depth, and breadth of the good
taste of Collis, Arabella, Henry, and Archer Huntington. This deeply
serious book will interest anyone curious about the relation of wealth
to high culture in twentieth-century America.”
—Stanley N. Katz, Director, Princeton University Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies
About the Author
M. Bennett received a doctorate in art history from the University of
California, Los Angeles, and, after a brief career in academia, joined
the staff of The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical
Gardens for a 32-year tenure, serving as curator of European art and
then as senior research associate. She curated and supervised 35
exhibitions and also contributed to and oversaw the publication of two
landmark catalogs of the collections, British Painting at the Huntington and French Art of the Eighteenth Century at the Huntington.
She has also taught at the California Institute of Technology for more
than two decades and has published widely on British art and collecting
About the book
The Art of Wealth: The Huntingtons in the Gilded Age
Publication date: May 1, 2013
368 pages, with 226 illus., 8.5 x 11 in.
Huntington Library Press
1151 Oxford Rd. San Marino, Calif. 91108 USA
CONTACTS: Lisa Blackburn, 626-405-2140, firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan Turner-Lowe, 626-405-2147, email@example.com
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[EDITOR’S NOTE: High-resolution digital images available on request for publicity use.]
About the Huntington Library Press
in 1920, the Huntington Library Press [Add hyperlink] is one of
Southern California's oldest book publishers. Its current publishing
agenda includes a quarterly journal for scholars and a mixture of
scholarly books, conference papers, exhibition catalogs, facsimiles from
its collections, and visitor publications. These are distributed
worldwide. The Huntington also issues books in cooperation with other
publishers in the United States, England, and Japan.
About The Huntington
Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a
collections-based research and educational institution serving scholars
and the general public. More information about The Huntington can be
found online at huntington.org.