The Art of Wealth: The Huntingtons in the Gilded Age

The Art of Wealth: The Huntingtons in the Gilded Age

by Shelley M. Bennett
     
 


"A fascinating account of one of the great plutocratic and philanthropic dynasties of gilded-age America. Across three generations, the Huntington family were entrepreneurs and investors, conspicuous consumers and energetic collectors. They were also munificent benefactors in New York City and in Southern California; they were pioneering in the legal structures… See more details below

Overview


"A fascinating account of one of the great plutocratic and philanthropic dynasties of gilded-age America. Across three generations, the Huntington family were entrepreneurs and investors, conspicuous consumers and energetic collectors. They were also munificent benefactors in New York City and in Southern California; they were pioneering in the legal structures they created to give effect to their generosity; and their private lives were as complex and intricate as their finances. Here is a true account of American riches to rival anything dreamed up by Edith Wharton or Henry James."—David Cannadine, Princeton University

"A rigorously researched study of what must be one of America's most exceptional collecting families. Collis, Arabella, Archer and Henry E. Huntington together constituted an amazing quartet of hunters and gatherers. Documenting their extraordinary string of art purchases, Shelley Bennett has put together a meticulous account of their varying tastes, cultural ambitions, multiple philanthropies, and innovative institutions."—Neil Harris, University of Chicago

"This thoughtful and impeccably researched volume gives new meaning to the notion of nouveaux riches. The saga of the dynasty founded by Collis P. Huntington, a penniless easterner who made good in the gold rush and the 'Railroad Era,' is recounted with surprising honesty but also with a convincing sympathy for what this family accomplished as collectors, builders, and donors. The volume's carefully selected and beautifully reproduced images convey the complexity, depth, and breadth of the good taste of Collis, Arabella, Henry, and Archer Huntington. This deeply serious book will interest anyone curious about the relation of wealth to high culture in twentieth-century America."—Stanley N. Katz, Princeton University

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bennett, senior research associate at the Huntington Library, offers an engaging and unusual history of philanthropy in the U.S. The Gilded Age cast of characters is familiar; more surprising is their influence on art and tax laws. Collis P. Huntington was one of the era's “big four” railroad magnates. His nephew, Henry E. Huntington, founded the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gar-dens in San Marino, Calif. Arabella Huntington married both Collis, and, after Collis's death, Henry. Arabella's son, Archer, went on to found the Hispanic Museum. Though the men are better known, Arabella haunts the book. Often ostracized from society because of her first “marriage” to a gaming saloon operator, she survived as best she could given the times. Whether or not Collis fathered Archer while still married to his first wife, he nonetheless gave his mistress, Arabella, enough support for her to successfully invest and build her own wealth before they married. Arabella skillfully oversaw the building and decorating of the numerous Huntington estates, both in the U.S. and in France, and se-cured the family's philanthropic legacy. Filled with photographs of the family's exquisite art collection, the book expertly brings to life a remarkable family of the early 20th-century. 83 color illus., 136 b&w photos. (Aug.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780873282536
Publisher:
University of California Press
Publication date:
07/01/2013
Pages:
366
Product dimensions:
8.60(w) x 11.30(h) x 1.20(d)

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