Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Huntington Art Gallery

The above sculpture caught my eye just before I entered the Huntington house. And it was just not the sculpture which impressed me, but the lush green foliage surrounding it. Since the heavy rains of last week it seems that southern California has slipped into springtime. Plants have now become a vibrant green,and even grass is appearing in places where there had just been dry earth. When Henry Huntington, owner of the Central Pacific Railroad, built this house in San Marino in 1911 he meant for it to be a modest dwelling. He wanted it to be converted eventually into an art gallery. His marriage to Arabella in 1913, however, changed that notion. The house was upgraded to 55,000 square feet. I did not  see a lot of evidence of the grand house that it once was, but I still could note its elegance in the grand hall, large library, dining room and drawing rooms. The house displays one of the largest collection of European art in the nation. Highlights include Gainsborough's Blue Boy and Lawrence's Pinkie. The estate also has a large research library containing rare collection books and manuscripts. There are also two additional buildings for American art and changing exhibitions. Winter hours allow four hours to see everything in one day, including the gardens. It was not in our plans, but we did stop to look at the current exhibition of American lithography. It features more than 250 objects documenting color lithography from advertising posters,product labels, and wall calenders to art prints from children's books to sheet music and trading cards. It was well worth our time. One could come to the Huntington estate just to see the gardens and still feel it was worth the admission price. There are Chinese, Australian and Japanese gardens as well as a rose,Shakespeare, children and subtropical gardens. In the picture here, taken in the Chinese garden, note the tall Taihu Rock on the right side of the building.  It is a type of rock found in China which is valued as a legendary decorative garden rock. It is considered by the Chinese to be a source of inspiration and contemplation, also called a scholar's rock.

The other picture I have here was taken in the Japanese garden. Unfortunately it was an overcast day with little sunshine. I will write on the cactus garden in my next posting.

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