Since American art debuted at the Huntington in 1984, the collection has expanded rapidly and continues to evolve in a dynamic fashion along with public interest in the arts of the United States. Reopened in May 2009, The Huntington’s American art collection features works from the 1690s to the 1950s. Works from the 18th century are on display in the Scott Gallery, 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 Gallery 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 late19th 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 Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art allow Huntington visitors the opportunity to view important examples of American art, but also experience a collection that is relatively young and continues to develop over time. As the Huntington’s American art collection continues to grow by gift and purchase, installations in the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries will be dynamic, with new works going on view throughout the year.
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 inaugural 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.