The Huntington Art Collections focus on two distinct areas—European art from the 15th to the early 20th century, and American art from the colonial period to the present. The holdings are vast, with more than 42,000 works of art. The European collections are displayed in the Huntington Art Gallery, the original Huntington residence. American art is on view in the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art. Temporary exhibitions are presented in the MaryLou and George Boone Gallery, and smaller, focused exhibitions are presented in the Works on Paper Room in the Huntington Art Gallery and in the Susan and Stephen Chandler Wing of the Scott Galleries.
The Huntington's American art collection features works from the colonial period to the present. Works from the 18th century are on display in the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries, and include paintings by John Singleton Copley, Benjamin West, and Gilbert Stuart as well as furniture and decorative arts from New York, Philadelphia, and New England that provide insight into the artistic development and culture of early America.
The collection of 19th-century American art begins in the Scott Galleries with artists including Raphaelle Peale, George Caleb Bingham, and Eastman Johnson; and extends into the Erburu Gallery with the Huntington's strong collection of Hudson River School paintings by Frederic Edwin Church, Martin Johnson Heade, John Kensett and Albert Bierstadt.
The late 19th-century galleries feature paintings by John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, and William Merritt Chase; furniture by Herter Brothers; and silver by Tiffany & Company. Highlights of important 19th-century American sculpture include work by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Chauncey Ives, Hiram Powers, Frederic Remington and Harriet Hosmer's monumental Zenobia in Chains.
The American art collection has a special emphasis on the Arts and Crafts Movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, displaying work by Charles Rohlfs, the Byrdcliffe Arts Colony, George Washington Maher, and the Roycrofters, and a dining room table and chairs designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Twentieth-century American art is one of the most rapidly expanding areas of the collection. The reinstalled galleries feature paintings by George Bellows, John Sloan, Charles Sheeler, Edward Hopper, and Robert Motherwell; works on paper by Grant Wood and Joseph Cornell; sculpture by Paul Manship, William Hunt Diederich, and Elie Nadelman; an extensive collection of Stuben glass; silver by California-based silversmith Allan Adler; and ceramics by Glen Lukens.
The Jonathan and Karin Fielding Wing expansion to the Scott Galleries adds 5,000 square feet of gallery space with dramatic, colorful displays that highlight early American paintings, furniture, and works of decorative art, and offer visitors important insights into the history of American art practice. The exhibition, "Becoming America," showcases more than 200 works from the Fieldings' collection of 18th- and early 19th-century American art works. In its rich diversity, the Fielding Collection offers a rare opportunity to explore early American history through objects made for daily use and through images of the people who used them.
The Susan and Stephen Chandler Wing of the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art serve as a space for temporary exhibitions concentrating on American painting, decorative arts, and works on paper. The Dorothy Collins Brown Wing of the Scott Gallery continues to be devoted to the work of early 20th-century Pasadena architects Charles and Henry Greene.
The Huntington's exceptional holdings in early 20th century American prints include works by George Bellows, Howard Norton Cook, Peggy Bacon, Martin Lewis, Robert Gwathmey, Minna Citron, and Thomas Hart Benton.
The American sculpture collection includes robust holdings of American Neo-Classical architecture (1840s-1870s), with works by Jo Davidson, Frederic Remington, Gaston Lachaise, Elie Nadelman, Claude Sargent Johnson, Tony Smith, and Donald Judd.
Strengths and highlights of the American drawings collection include sketches by John Singleton Copley, George Inness, John Singer Sargent, over forty drawings by John Frederick Kensett, a mushroom sketchbook by Elihu Vedder, and a set of Frederick Hammersley's computer drawings.
The Huntington's European art collection encompasses a broad range of styles, cultures and media, from antiquity to the twentieth century. It features one of the most significant collections of British art outside the United Kingdom, including important holdings of 18th- and 19th-century sculpture, as well as decorative arts from 15th-century silver through the 19th- and early 20th-century designs of William Morris and his followers. Famous for its collection of grand manner portraits, it is also distinguished by important examples of 19th-century landscape painting by Constable and Turner, and 17th-century portraiture by Peter Lely and Anthony van Dyck.
The European art collection also includes extensive holdings of art from outside Great Britain. It is particularly strong in Renaissance bronzes and 18th-century French decorative art and sculpture, including a major group of terracottas by Clodion and works in marble and bronze by Jean-Antoine Houdon. The collection of French paintings contains works by the most important artists of the 17th and 18th centuries, such as Claude, Watteau and Greuze.
The collection of British portraits of the late 18th and early 19th-century is considered one of the greatest outside London. Many of the best works by the most important English painters of the period were large formal portraits; 14 of the finest examples are on display in the Thornton Portrait Gallery, including portraits by Joshua Reynolds, George Romney, and Thomas Gainsborough, whose works on view include Blue Boy (ca. 1770) and Karl Friedrich Abel (ca. 1777), as well as Reynolds' Sarah Siddons as the Tragic Muse and Thomas Lawrence's "Pinkie" (1794). In addition to painted portraits, the Thornton Portrait Gallery also features an important collection of British portrait busts, representing most of the important sculptors working in England during the period.
Elsewhere in the Huntington Art Gallery, other periods of British painting are represented. Seventeenth- and early 18th-century portraits, including works by Van Dyck, Lely, and Allan Ramsay, can be found in the anteroom to the Thornton Portrait Gallery. The rise of landscape painting around 1800 is represented by important works from J. M. W. Turner and John Constable, on view on the second floor. An important group of miniature portraits can be seen in two new displays: early miniatures, including a portrait of Queen Elizabeth I by Nicholas Hillard, are shown downstairs, while 18th- and 19th-century examples by artists such as Richard Cosway are on display upstairs. British drawings and watercolors are presented in changing exhibitions in a dedicated room in the upstairs west wing.
British decorative arts include an important collection of silver, comprising works from the 15th through the 19th centuries, extensive holdings of furniture, and porcelain and pottery from the great manufactories of the industrial revolution, such as Chelsea, Derby and Wedgwood.
A recent acquisition of works relating to William Morris established a new focus on the Design Reform movement from the 1840s through the early 20th century. The major renovation of the Gallery, completed in 2008, included the conversion of a stairwell into a space to display a 15-foot-high stained glass window (ca. 1898) produced by Morris and Co. after designs by Edward Burne-Jones.
The collection of French art, mostly from the 18th century, is characteristic of the taste for grand-siècle style among American millionaires in the early 20th century. The downstairs rooms of the Huntington Art Gallery are furnished with French furniture and decorative objects, arranged to evoke the taste and lifestyle of Henry and Arabella Huntington. A set of Beauvais tapestries after designs by François Boucher, purchased by Huntington in 1909, hangs in the large library. This room also includes two of the great Savonnerie carpets designed for Louis XIV's redecoration of the Louvre palace in the late 17th century.
A large part of the French art collection is displayed in new galleries devoted to the Arabella D. Huntington Memorial Art Collection, in the upstairs east wing. This collection begins with Jean-Antoine Houdon's original life-size bronze Diana the Huntress, first publicly exhibited in 1782. The collection was assembled by Huntington in his wife's memory. Other highlights include five Beauvais tapestries from the Italian Village Scenes, a wonderful Houdon marble bust of Mme de Vermenoux and a substantial group of Sèvres porcelain.
The Adele S. Browning Memorial Collection displayed alongside includes an important group of paintings by leading artists of the ancien régime, such as Antoine Watteau, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, and Jean-Baptiste Greuze.
Nineteenth-century French art is represented by a group of paintings by artists associated with the Barbizon school. These were purchased by Henry Huntington before his marriage, and before he began to develop a new collecting focus on 18th-century art. These paintings are displayed with a group of 19th-century French sculptures in the upstairs northwest hallway which includes a major bronze by Alexandre Charpentier.
Other European Art
A small group of Renaissance paintings in the upstairs east wing, also part of the Arabella D. Huntington Memorial Art Collection, has as its centerpiece an exquisite Virgin and Child (ca. 1460) by the Flemish master Rogier van der Weyden. Renaissance bronzes in this wing form a group around Nessus and Deianira, a spectacular cast of a famous work by 16th-century Italian sculptor Giambologna. City views by Italian artists such as Antonio Canaletto and Bernardo Bellotto were collected by Englishmen as souvenirs of their "grand tours" of Europe and hang on the second floor in the southeast hallway.
The Huntington's holdings of European prints include the Edward W. and Julia B. Bodman Collection of Old Master prints, which comprises works by many of the most important printmakers, including Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt van Rijn, and Francisco de Goya.
The European drawings collection includes works by Old Masters, as well as French and Italian artists of the 17th and 18th centuries. The largest portion of this collection by far comprises British drawings from the 17th through the 19th centuries.
The Huntington houses the most important collection of British grand manner portraiture outside the United Kingdom, including such celebrated works as Thomas Gainsborough's The Blue Boy, Thomas Lawrence's Pinkie, and Joshua Reynolds's Sarah Siddons as the Tragic Muse.