Daniel Huntington (1816-1906)

“Of unblemished character, dignified yet courteous in manner and address, with social talents of high order, he represented not alone the [National] Academy [of the Arts] but the profession with distinguished success.,” [1]    So said the president of the organization after the death of his predecessor Daniel Huntington on April 18, 1906. Huntington was born nearly 200 years ago in New York on October 14, 1816, into an old New England family. He painted historical and inspirational works, landscapes and over a 1,000 portraits, including presidents and first ladies. In the tradition of his ancestor John Trumbull’s presidents and first ladies, he created an enormous (87 x 108¼ inches) commemoration of the trans-Atlantic telegraph cable, Atlantic Cable Projectors (Scroll down for image and key). Among the prominent faces he recorded were Samuel F. B. Morse, another Academy president.

During his long tenure as leader of the National Academy of Arts, Huntington preserved the staid respectability of the once pioneering organization against the onslaught of new artistic ideas. Magnifying his influence on the culture of the Gilded Age was his presidency of the Century Association, vice-presidency of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and trusteeship of the organization that would become the New York Public Library. Enormously popular in his time, much of his work has faded in memory.  Some of his  paintings today seem lifeless and conservative, others, too romantic, while still others strike a balance with the contemporary.

Daniel Huntington, Albert Gallatin, 1841<br> Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts, 1933.10.2

Daniel Huntington, Albert Gallatin,1841
Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts, 1933.10.2

Daniel Huntington, Anna Watson Stuart, c 1862 Metropolitan Museum of Art 43.55.2

Daniel Huntington, Anna Watson Stuart, c 1862
Metropolitan Museum of Art 43.55.2

Daniel Huntington, John Taylor Johnston, Metropolitan Museum of Art 2006.276

Daniel Huntington, John Taylor Johnston, 1875
Metropolitan Museum of Art 2006.276

 Daniel Huntington, Abigail Dolbeare Hinman, 1854-1856, Lyman Allyn Art Museum, New London, Connecticut

Daniel Huntington, Abigail Dolbeare Hinman, 1854-1856
Lyman Allyn Art Museum, New London, Connecticut

Daniel Huntington, Mary Inman, 1844, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 64.95

Daniel Huntington, Mary Inman, 1844,
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 64.95

 

 

Current scholarship appears to ignore Huntington, the latest is:

Wendy Greenhouse, “Daniel Huntington and the Ideal of Christian Art” published in Winterthur Portfolio in 1996.

 

[1] From President’s Address, National Academy of the Arts  annual meeting, May 9, 1906 in “Daniel Huntington,” Artists and Architects, National Academy Museum, http://www.nationalacademy.org/collections/artists/detail/695/

About Patricia Moss

Patricia Moss is an art historian, or art detective if you will, who solves mysteries of 19th century American portraits. She located nearly 70 of Bingham’s lost portraits, a feat acknowledged by the Smithsonian’s Research and Scholar’s Center. From expertise with portraits of George Caleb Bingham (1811-1879), she developed skills that evolved into a comprehensive system based on the scientific method that conforms to the legal and ethical standards of art authentication. Moss served as a guest curator for the Bingham Bicentennial Exhibit, “Steamboats to Steam Engines: George Caleb Bingham’s Missouri: 1819-1879,” (March 10-September 8, 2011) at the Truman Presidential Museum and curated the opening exhibition, “George Caleb Bingham: Witness to History,” (September 2013 –), Jackson County Art Museum, Independence, Missouri. She is also the principal researcher for Fine Art Investigations.
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