American, Caribbean Additions at the Huntington
|Letitia Huckaby, And Thy Neighb(our), Chaulinne and And Thy Neighb(our), Shwanda, both 2020. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens. ©Letitia Huckaby.|
The Huntington's Art Collectors' Council has acquired a group of works by American artists, including Lilly Martin Spencer, Edward Bannister, Tiffany & Co., and Tyrus Wong. Also added is a unique set of six paintings of 18th-century British Caribbean life by Agostino Brunias.
|Agostino Brunias, Free Women of Dominica Bathing in a Stream, 1770–80s. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens|
Born in Rome, Agostino Brunias (about 1730-1796) worked with architect Robert Adam in England and painted Neoclassical murals for stately homes. His career took an abrupt turn when he moved to Dominica in the British West Indies. The six paintings here, each 11-3/4 by 9-1/8 in., appear to be a complete set and are in their original frames. They depict the mix of ethnicities in the British island colonies of Dominica and Saint Vincent. Free Women of Dominica Bathing in a Stream reimagines Diana and Her Nymphs. Young Couple and Child Promenading, Dominica recalls the castas paintings of Mexico. The group must have been created for similar purposes, to reassure the Old World about a diverse, race-mixing New World. Brunias' visions of racial harmony were idealized, but Haiti's Toussaint Louverture was among those praising them.
|Agostino Brunias, Young Couple and Child Promenading, Dominica, 1770–80s. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens|
|Lilly Martin Spencer, Strawberries, 1859. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.|
Lilly Martin Spencer (1822-1902) was a pioneering woman artist, active in Cincinnati and New York. Her husband raised their thirteen children while Lilly was the artist-breadwinner. Spencer is best known for genre scenes of family life, but Strawberries demonstrates her skill as a still life painter. By the end of the 19th century, Spencer's accessible art was considered old-fashioned, and wealthy American collectors looked to the European avant garde. Strawberries was auctioned in Oct. 2022 for $19,375.
|Edward Mitchell Bannister, untitled (Walking Through a Field), about 1870s. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens|
Bannister studied with William Rimmer in Boston and ultimately drew on the Barbizon School and Millet. Though the Huntington painting avoids explicit politics or narrative, the Rhode Island landscapes Bannister depicted were worked by slaves in the artist's lifetime. In Bannister's mature pictures, America is less a promised land than a landscape of melancholy.
|Tiffany & Co., Covered Pitcher, about 1880. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens|
|Tyrus Wong, Dragon’s Den Mural, about 1935. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens. Tyrus Wong Family|
Two works by Letitia Huckaby (top of post) print photo-silhouette portraits onto embroidered fabric. Huckaby studied with Gee's Bend quilter Lucy Mingo during a 2007 residency, connecting these portraits to the Gee's Bend quilts and prints in the collection.