Past

​In the Virginia Van Zandt Great Hall, at the entrance to the Museum, is the 12-foot tall Palette Tree. This tree, filled with more than 50 one-on-a-kind palettes, displays works by different artists while openly showcasing their individual style. While each piece is made from an artist’s palette, different mediums of art are showcased to show the unique and ever-changing creativity from regional artists.

Throughout the different gallery spaces in the Museum, the creativity continues with additional trees. Each of these trees is decorated by an area artist group. Participating groups include the West Virginia Bead Society; Tri-Area Needle Arts; the Western Weavers Guild of the West Virginia Basketmakers; and the Calligraphers Guild. Other artists participating include folk artists, woodworkers and woodturners.

Art on a Limb is Presented by The Pottery Place of Huntington & Charleston.

American Impressionism

March 7 - August 23, 2020

Perhaps no other painting style generates popular enthusiasm among modern-day museum-goers quite like impressionism. Filled with dazzling color, shimmering light and pleasant subject matter, the works are sensual delights that seem to instantly resonate with viewers.

It is difficult to imagine that the beginnings of the style in the 19th century brought with it a great deal of scorn and controversy. When Claude Monet and several associates showed their paintings in Paris in 1874, critics panned the work as unfinished and crude, and the subject matter (common landscapes and city views) was considered unacceptable for its lack of ideal or heroic qualities. Needless to say, the style caught on in a relatively short period of time, and by the time it began to be widely collected in America at the end of the 19th century, it had lost its radical edge and was embraced by native artists as an acceptable means to depict modern American life. While many American painters who had studied at the academies in Europe at first found the free-spirited qualities of the style to be objectionable, most of them soon adopted impressionist characteristics in their work and found a welcome audience in their home country.

The Huntington Museum of Art has a stellar collection of American impressionist works by many of the leading practitioners of the style, including five oil paintings by Childe Hassam, along with examples by Willard Metcalf, Frank Benson, John Twachtman, Edward Simmons, Robert Reid, and J. Alden Weir, all of whom exhibited together as part of the “Ten American Painters,” a group with impressionist leanings. Other artists of note include
Maurice Prendergast, Edward Potthast, William Glackens, Guy Wiggins, Theodore Butler, Hayley Lever, Gari Melchers, Arthur Meltzer and Paul Sawyier. A stellar landscape painting in the impressionist style by John Singer Sargent is also among HMA’s holdings. Works by these artists will be featured in this exhibition and will showcase the strong collection of American impressionist works that have been acquired since the museum opened in 1952.

Presented with support from The Isabelle Gwynn and Robert Daine Exhibition Endowment.

This program is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

Those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God,” Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1787, expressing his belief that the workers who till the soil would be the unshakable foundation of the newly formed United States of America.

Serving as symbols of self-reliance and dignity, workers, particularly farm laborers, found their way onto the sketchbooks and canvases of artists, especially as the 19th century unfolded and the rise of factory production radically changed the work experience for many people. Some artists such as Gustave Courbet and Jean Francois Millet used the image of the worker to express strong political views, while others chose to present a more nostalgic sentiment that mourned the decline of the agricultural economy and a vanishing way of life. By the beginning of the 20th century a philosophy of realism was firmly entrenched, giving rise to depictions of even the most unglamorous jobs, from street sweepers to barmaids.

The selection of artworks in this exhibition from the Huntington Museum of Art collection ranges from 19th century depictions of agricultural laborers to modern-day images of coal miners and quarrymen at work. A variety of mediums will be presented, including paintings, prints, sculpture and photographs.

Presented with support from The Isabelle Gwynn and Robert Daine Exhibition Endowment.

This program is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

Please join us on January 21, 2020, at 6 p.m. for a free showing of the film “47 Ronin” in connection with this exhibit.

The tale of the 47 ronin recounts one of the most celebrated incidents in Japanese history, one that has inspired numerous works in poetry, drama, film and visual art. The story begins in 1701 with the forced suicide of Asano Naganori, prince and lord of the Ako castle and master of a band of loyal samurai. This tragic event was instigated by rival master Kira Yoshinaka, who had been offended when Asano threatened him with a sword.

With their leader gone, the warriors were forced to surrender their castle and became ronin (masterless samurai). Despite their humiliation, they collectively decided to bide their time before seeking revenge. After waiting patiently for months, the ronin gathered in Edo (present-day Tokyo) and attacked their enemy, killing Kira and placing his head upon Asano’s grave. Though the ruling government official (shogun) expressed some admiration for the loyalty of the warriors, he nevertheless ordered them to commit ritual suicide because they had exacted their revenge outside the laws of the land. The actions of the warriors became symbolic of the highest achievement of loyalty, honor and sacrifice, and further cemented popular admiration of the samurai tradition.

The story was often celebrated by artists in the form of woodblock prints. Utagawa Kunisada II (1823-1880), also known as Toyokuni IV, illustrated more than 200 books and created more than 40 series of prints
during his lengthy career. His illustrations of the 47 ronin story are derived from the popular kabuki drama and puppet theater play The Treasury of Loyal Retainers. This exhibition features 12 woodblock prints that illustrate this enduring and fascinating story.

This exhibit is presented by E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.

This program is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

Pastels & Drawings

January 18 - March 29, 2020

This exhibit will be in the spotlight during the January Tuesday Tour on January 28, 2020, at 7 p.m. This is a Macy’s Free Tuesday event.

The act of drawing is one of the key foundational elements of the visual arts. Virtually any attempt to create a finished work of art, from paintings to sculpture, typically begins with a sketch or preliminary drawing. For this reason, art students through the ages have spent countless hours drawing from a model or sketching in a studio setting as they prepared to move forward in their profession.

Drawings have been collected as independent works of art for centuries, though they were often relegated to secondary status because they were viewed as temporary or fragile. Even so, the drawings of masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Albrecht Durer have been prized among the great masterpieces of the artist’s craft.

While drawings are typically rendered with a pencil on paper, several other materials are also commonly used such as ink, crayon, charcoal and pastel. The history of the use of pastel (powdered pigment held together by a neutral binder in a manner similar to chalk) is a fascinating one. Long considered the stuff of amateurs, it was not until the 19th century that pastel began to command the consistent attention of leading artists and collectors. Championed by many of the impressionist artists such as Edgar Degas, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Mary Cassatt and Claude Monet, as well as James McNeill Whistler, the medium gradually grew in acceptance in the art world.

The Huntington Museum of Art has a rich collection of drawings in its holdings and they will be showcased in this exhibition. Works by leading American artists such as John Singer Sargent, George Bellows, John Twachtman, Thomas Dewing, Thomas Hart Benton and Everett Shinn are included in the exhibition, along with examples by more contemporary artists such as Wolf Kahn, Jack Beal, G. Daniel Massad and Jane Freilicher. Drawings by European masters such as Jean Francois Millet, Georges Braque, Marie Laurencin and Pablo Picasso will also be shown.

Presented with support from The Isabelle Gwynn and Robert Daine Exhibition Endowment.

This program is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.


The 19th century was a tumultuous time in Europe, both in terms of political events and in cultural matters. France was especially affected, as the turmoil it had experienced in the previous century continued to stir in the ensuing years through periods of warfare and toppled regimes. The call for change that rang throughout French society also had an impact on the arts, as the established hierarchy of the official Salon and the academies began to crumble, and a more democratic system evolved.

Leading the call for change were painters such as Gustave Courbet and Jean-Francois Millet, whose paintings of peasants and farm laborers brought a challenge to the rigidly prescribed academic styles that were prevalent. A new set of values began to emerge, as artists sought out the humble and familiar, especially in their choice of subjects for landscape paintings. This new aesthetic philosophy emphasized local scenery such as that found in the Forest of Fontainebleau and the small farming village of Barbizon that stood at its edge. No longer was it necessary to emphasize heroic or ideal subjects; now artists could take a train or boat into the countryside and find a wealth of inviting subject matter. This sensibility was also echoed in other aspects of French culture, such as in influential literary works by the novelist Emile Zola, whose settings were often in the villages of rural France.

Two closely related styles that were prevalent during the period were realism and naturalism. Realism focused upon the common people and their surroundings, while naturalism stressed faithful observation, especially in depicting the landscape. Each rejected the artificiality of the prevailing academic styles and paved the way for modernist movements such as impressionism, which emphasized painting directly from nature. Because France was the epicenter for artistic taste and study, the developments there quickly spread to other cultures, including America. Artists such as George Inness, Daniel Ridgway Knight and Gari Melchers gathered ideas from their French counterparts and brought them to the United States through their work.

The Beauty of the Familiar will emphasize examples of French and American painting that embrace the ideas of realism and naturalism. Many of the paintings in the exhibition were gifts of Herbert Fitzpatrick, whose efforts led to the founding of the Huntington Museum of Art in the late 1940s.

Presented with support from The Isabelle Gwynn and Robert Daine Exhibition Endowment.

This program is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.


Please join us for a free opening reception for this exhibit on November 15, 2019, at 5 p.m. featuring a presentation by Marshall University Professor Jeff Ruff.

The Mamluks ruled much of the area around Syria-Palestine and Egypt from 1250 to 1517. Emerging from slave origins (mamluk is the Arabic word meaning “slave”), they created a powerful empire that repeatedly fended off invading enemies and established the area as a stable stronghold. Their reign saw a flourishing culture that brought with it a rich period of artistic patronage, resulting in a remarkable legacy of achievements in architecture as well as the visual and decorative arts. During the Mamluk period, Cairo established itself as the leading cultural center in the Arab Islamic world.

One of the most distinguished craft traditions that emerged during the Mamluk period was the production of magnificent engraved and inlaid metalwork. Applying gold, copper and silver to the surfaces of metal (usually brass) objects, the work featured elaborate Arabic calligraphic inscriptions and complex geometric and floral motifs. Metalworking centers flourished in Damascus and Cairo, and the work found its way into the collections of prosperous patrons in the region as well as in wealthy European households. Following the demise of the Mamluk sultans in the 16th century, new decorative styles emerged that reflected the culture of the ruling Ottoman Empire or European sources, effectively ending the stylistic era of the Mamluks.

By the late 19th century, new interest was shown in preserving the extant examples of metalwork from the Mamluk period. Many of these were acquired for The Museum of Arab Art that had been established in Cairo, and there was also a growing export market for these treasures to satisfy the wishes of collectors in Europe and the United States. Unable to fulfill the demands for these objects with examples from the actual Mamluk period, merchants began to employ skilled craftsmen in Cairo and Damascus to recreate similar objects, using examples in museums and private collections as guides. For several decades prior to World War I, there was an upsurge in the
production of finely crafted metal objects in the Mamluk style. The intricate craftsmanship demonstrated in these works reflects the long and proud history of metalworking in the area and highlights the complex beauty of flowing calligraphy and highly patterned decoration that emerged centuries ago.

For Dr. Joseph Touma, the desire to collect these objects reflects great pride in his Syrian heritage and brings back rich memories of his childhood in Damascus. “When I was 11 or 12 years old my family moved to the Touma ancestral home in the Christian quarter of the historic old city of Damascus. I was surrounded by artisans who were working in the authentic Damascene craft traditions. What fascinated me most was the metalwork. At that time most of the metalwork was done by Jewish and Christian artisans, who engraved and inlaid with silver brass trays and various other wares. These workshops were in the heart of the Jewish and Christian quarters where we lived. For seven years I observed with fascination the beauty and the complexity of their artwork. Fast forward to the 1980s, and my love for this art was awakened once more during our visits to Damascus while walking the narrow streets of the old city. To my surprise the workshops were still there, and the sounds of chiseling the brass and inlaying the silver had not changed. I bought a few pieces and began a 25-year quest to research and acquire exquisite pieces.” The exhibition will showcase some of the finest examples that Dr. Touma and his wife, Omayma, have collected over the years.

This exhibit is presented by Community Trust Bank.

Presented with support from The Isabelle Gwynn and Robert Daine Exhibition Endowment.

This program is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.


Please join us for a free opening reception for this exhibit on October 25, 2019, at 5:30 p.m.

The series of paintings in The Rivers carries viewers to the very banks of America’s greatest waterways and beyond, into the shipyards, onto the docks, aboard the ships and out on the swift broad currents.

Here, unbeknownst to most Americans, millions of tons of freight – grains, gravel and aggregates, paper, wood, coffee, coal, petroleum, chemicals, iron, steel, rubber and manufactured goods – flow past our towns and cities every year. Huntington has long served as a busy inland port, but most of the activity on the river is away from public view.

Artist Daven Anderson, however, has earned special access to the behind-the-scenes life on the rivers by virtue of his status as a U.S. Coast Guard Artist, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, and Managing Director of the American Society of Marine Artists. Through this exhibit, visitors to HMA can enjoy a privileged journey across and around the continent as they accompany Anderson as he observes the activities on America’s waterways, including several views on the Ohio River.

This exhibit is presented by Mr. and Mrs. R. Sterling Hall in Memory of Isabelle Gwynn Daine.

Presented with support from The Isabelle Gwynn and Robert Daine Exhibition Endowment.

This program is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

Some of the artists represented in the impressive Daywood Collection include William Glackens and Howard Somerville, whose painting “Joyce” is one of the most beloved by Museum Members in HMA’s permanent collection of more than 16,000 objects.

Arthur S. Dayton (1887-1948), and Ruth Woods Dayton (1894-1978) carefully and systematically acquired the works that would become The Daywood Collection and Mrs. Dayton donated the collection of more than 300 works of art to HMA in December 1966.

Born in Phillippi, W.Va., in 1887, Arthur S. Dayton’s father was an attorney, judge and U.S. Congressman. Arthur Dayton earned a law degree at West Virginia University in 1908. He went on to attend Yale and receive a Master’s degree there. He was an avid collector of not only art but also rare books, including Mark Twain first editions and Shakespeare folios among several other Elizabethan-period works.

Also from Phillippi, Ruth Woods Dayton was born there in 1894 and attended what would later become Greenbrier College and earned a certificate from the New York School of Interior Design. She married Arthur S. Dayton on June 14, 1916, and wrote articles and books about early West Virginia settlers. After her husband passed away in 1948, Mrs. Dayton would later give her husband’s legal library to the West Virginia University Law Library and his rare book collection to the West Virginia University Library.

This exhibit is presented by Sansom Foundation.

Additional support provided by generous supporters of the 2019 Open Door Membership Campaign.

This program is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

HMA Grant Writer Timothy Adkins will read from Thomas Handforth’s book “The Far Away Meadow” during Saturday KidsArt on November 2, 2019, at 1 p.m. An art project in connection with this exhibit will follow. Saturday KidsArt is generously sponsored by Cabell Huntington Hospital.

Artist Thomas Handforth (1897-1948), a native of Tacoma, Washington, is best known for his children’s book Mei Li, which was awarded the 1939 Caldecott Medal for the best American illustrated children’s book of the year. Set in China, it follows a spirited young girl’s adventures at a New Year fair, where she encounters a host of interesting characters, from animals to acrobats.

Handforth based his lively illustrations on his firsthand observations of China, a country in which he lived and worked for more than six years. He first traveled to China in 1931 after receiving a Guggenheim Fellowship, and during his residence there he created many etchings and lithographs that recorded the land and people that surrounded him.

Handforth’s career as a printmaker spanned more than 25 years and brought him many awards and honors. In addition to his Chinese subjects, he produced a multitude of works that recorded his travels around the globe, from time spent in the rural provinces of France to the more exotic cultures of Cambodia, Algeria and Morocco. His work often portrayed the traditional ways of these places as they struggled to stay relevant in a rapidly modernizing world. He found lithography to be a very agreeable medium that allowed him to create an expressive line and rich texture, though he was also a talented etcher and draftsman. As a contemporary critic remarked in a review of a 1939 exhibit, Handforth’s “deftness and assurance of his clean, swinging line never ceases to be a source of joy ...”

The Huntington Museum of Art owns 100 prints by Handforth, all of which were gifts of the artist’s estate. The exhibition will highlight a broad sampling of Handforth’s work that demonstrates his keen observational skills and mastery of the printmaker’s art.

This exhibit is presented by Garth’s Auctioneers & Appraisers.

Presented with support from The Isabelle Gwynn and Robert Daine Exhibition Endowment.

This program is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

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