Far from unknown, Anna Hyatt Huntington’s truly stupendous body of work has nonetheless been consigned to the back shelf (if not exactly the dustbin) of history.
Anna Hyatt (1876-1973) was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and initially studied with Henry Hudson Kitson in Boston. According to one source Kitson threw her out after she identified equine anatomical deficiencies in his work. She studied later with Hermon Atkins MacNeil and Gutzon Borglum at the Art Students League of New York, but briefly; and remained largely self taught. Anna’s father was a Harvard professor and prominent naturalist, and it was through him that Anna learned much about animal anatomy, her favorite sculptural subject.
The prolific artist married Archer Milton Huntington in 1923, and the couple used Huntington’s massive railroad fortune to fund many philanthropic endeavors, among them the Hispanic Society of America, New York, and Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina.
Huntington’s larger-than-lifesize equestrian monuments secured her reputation, and many can be seen in New York. “José Martí” is in Central Park, and “Joan of Arc” (pictured) faces Riverside Drive at 93rd Street. The grand plaza of the Museum of the Hispanic Society of America is home to the dramatic “El Cid”, as well as marble bas-reliefs of Don Quixote and Boabdil, the last Moorish King of Granada.
Sculptors Marjorie Jay Daingerfield and Katherine Ward Lane Weems both studied with Huntington, and she was the friend and collaborator of sculptor Abastenia St. Leger Eberle (whom she affectionately called “Stennie”) and a colleague of artist Elizabeth Norton.
Huntington received numerous awards during her lifetime, including the Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur in 1933 for “Joan of Arc”.