Huntington Acquisitions: A Jacobean Portrait, a Modern Cityscape & More
|(Probably) Robert Peake the Elder, An unknown lady, traditionally called Eleanor Wortley, Lady Lee, 1615. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens|
The Huntington has announced a group of purchases expanding the scope of its collection of British art. One, a full-length portrait attributed to Robert Peake the Elder, becomes the earliest major British picture in the collection. There's also a small oil sketch of a young Black man; an Anglo-Japanese vase by Christopher Dresser; a Futurist-inspired pastel cityscape by C.R.W. Nevinson.
Henry Huntington's painting collection began with Hogarth. It was half a century after Huntington's death that the institution added a British-period van Dyck, about 1637. The new, full-length portrait pushes the timeline back a generation, to about 1615. Recent detective work had ruled out the traditional identification of the subject as one Eleanor Wortley, Lady Lee. The sitter is now unknown, and the press release says the painting is "probably" by Robert Peake the Elder. Scholars have struggled to distinguish Peake's work from that of his associates. The painting, measuring 81-1/2 by 47-3/16 inches, is a prime example of the costume piece, a portrait of fabric, jewels, and status as much as flesh (of which not too much is visible). Such portraits were a British innovation, ancestral to the painterly full-length likenesses of van Dyck, Gainsborough, and Reynolds.
|Unknown British artist, Portrait of a Young Black Man, 1800-1820. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens|
|Mary Clementina Barrett, Slave Houses on the Barrett Plantation, Jamaica, about 1830. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens |
|Christopher Dresser, Basket Vase, 1892-1896. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens|
|Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson, From an Office Window, 1916. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens|
The Peake and Young Black Man portraits will debut Feb. 15, 2023, adjacent to a small show of Njideka Akunyili Crosby portraits curated by Hilton Als.