In my last post, I talked a little about the botanical gardens at the Huntington in San Marino. Here, as you probably figured out from the title, I’m gonna focus more on parts of the library and the art collections. Again, I barely scratched the surface of all you can see at the Huntington so I’m not going to (and basically can’t) cover everything. For this post, I decided to just pick out some of my favorite pieces in the collections that stood out to me. We’re gonna go backwards and start with the art first (I put the reverse in the title because “The Huntington Art Collections and Library” just sounds weird).
There are several art exhibit halls at the Huntington, but I only went to Huntington Art Gallery, which used to be the home of Henry E. Huntington and his second wife. The art gallery opened in 1928, only a year after Huntington had passed away. It’s a massive residence that could probably be accurately described as “palatial”. I know I won’t be able to adequately describe the architecture, but thankfully the Huntington website has more information about that:
Ultimately, the building plan came to some 55,000 square feet, with the south façade and terrace reflecting Italian and Spanish Renaissance traditions of country house architecture, and the north façade, with its corps-de-logis and advancing wings, acknowledging the French tradition. As a whole, the house is a classic exercise in the emerging Mediterranean style of early-20th-century Californian architecture.
By the way, I just realized that I forgot to take a picture of the actual building and am kicking myself for it right now. I’ll have to remember to do it the next time I visit so that I can include it in this post!
Inside the gallery are more than a thousand pieces of European Art from the 15th to early 20th centuries. The most famous of them all is The Blue Boy, painted by Thomas Gainsborough in 1770. Apparently, it was Gainsborough’s first attempt at a full length Van Dyck dress and he drew viewers in with the way he rendered the satin cloth. What really got me excited about seeing The Blue Boy though was that it is one of the paintings you can find and donate to the museum in the Animal Crossing series! In Animal Crossing, The Blue Boy is known as the basic painting and I actually already have it in my town’s museum. Now, I kind of want to make it a mission to take a picture with all the real-life paintings and sculptures that the ones in game are modeled after.
Other works of art that stood out to me for one reason or another included…
Two Boys by Candlelight, Blowing a Bladder (1767-73) by Joseph Wright of Derby
Coade-Stone Torchere (1809) manufactured by Coade and Sealy, Lambeth, England, probably after a design by Thomas Hopper
David Healey Memorial Window from the Unitarian Chapel, Heywood, Lancashire (c. 1898) by Edward Burne-Jones and John Henry Dearle, manufactured by Morris & Company, London
Frightened Baby (c. 1880) by Adolphe Itasse
Of course there are others that were interesting too, but time to move on to the Huntington Library, which has some special pieces of its own. I think I should clarify what I mean when I talk about the library though. While the Huntington Library is an exclusive research library, it also has a permanent exhibit called “Remarkable Works, Remarkable Times” that visitors can explore to check out some of the rare works that has gone into the museum’s collection.
Some of the noteworthy pieces of literature included…
The Canterbury Tales (The Ellesmere Chaucer) (ca. 1400-1405) by Geoffrey Chaucer
This manuscript is the most complete version of The Canterbury Tales from the turn of the fifteenth century.
Gutenburg Bible (ca. 1455) printed by Johann Gutenberg
The Gutenberg Bible is considered “the first substantial book printed in Europe” and, of the approximately 175 that were made using Gutenberg’s printing press, only 48 exist today.
The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmarke (1611) by William Shakespeare
This book is notable for being published in Shakespeare’s lifetime.
The Birds of America: From Original Drawings (1827-1838) by John Hames Audubon
The Birds of America, written and illustrated by ornithologist and naturalist John Audubon, is a famous and rare book featuring detailed drawings of birds found in the United States, including six species that are now extinct.
There were other exhibits inside the library building that I didn’t get the chance to see, so once again, that has to be saved for another day.
That pretty much wraps things up for this post. If you like exploring and learning, have never been to the Huntington, and live close enough to get over there, then I totally recommend spending at least a day or two there.