Arabella Huntington

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Arabella Huntington
Arabella Huntington
Arabella Huntington
Born1851
Richmond, Virginia
Died1924
Burial placeHuntington Library's Mausoleum
NationalityAmerican
Other namesArabella Duval Yarrington "Bell" Huntington
OccupationPhilanthropist
Known forSecond wife of Collis P. Huntington, and second wife of Henry E. Huntington
Spouse(s)Collis Potter Huntington, Henry E. Huntington
Childrenone
RelativesArcher Milton Huntington (son)

Arabella Huntington (1850–1924) was an American philanthropist and once known as the richest woman in the country. She was the force behind the art collection that is housed at the Huntington Library in California.

She was the second wife of Collis P. Huntington, an American railway tycoon and industrialist. After his death, she married his nephew, Henry E. Huntington, also a railway magnate, and founder of the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens, in San Marino, California.

Biography[edit]

The monument of Arabella Huntington in Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, NY

In 1884 the widowed Arabella Yarrington married Collis P. Huntington, a wealthy industrialist, in San Francisco. She brought her son Archer to the marriage, and he was adopted by Collis Huntington. Collis died in 1900.

Later she married his widowed nephew Henry E. Huntington (1850 to 1927), who was also a railway magnate and influential in the Los Angeles area. He founded the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens, in San Marino, California.

Information about her early life was scarce. She was born Arabella Duval Yarrington in 1850 or 1851, probably in Richmond, Virginia (see Wark, p. 312). For the 1921 passenger list for the ship Aquitania, sailing from Cherbourg to New York, Arabella Huntington said she was born in Mobile, Alabama on February 9, 1851.[1]

She moved North with a Mr. Worsham, also of Virginia, said to be married with children. He died shortly after they were married, leaving her with their young son Archer, who was born about 1870. (Some sources have suggested that the pair were never married and that she was Worsham's mistress).[2] In 1877 she purchased some property in New York, which was later sold to John D. Rockefeller.[2]

In New York, she worked to care for the ailing wife of Collis P. Huntington, a wealthy industrialist and railway magnate whom she may have met in Richmond. (It has been suggested that her son Archer's biological father was Collis Huntington.[2])

Collis Huntington's wife died in 1884 in New York. He married Arabella that year, in San Francisco, California. She was his second wife. After they married, he legally adopted Archer, wh by then was 14 years old.) When Collis Huntington died in 1900, both Arabella and Archer inherited money from him. She is said to have inherited more than $50 million.

Huntington Fund for Cancer Research[edit]

In 1902 Huntington gave $100,000 to General Memorial Hospital in memory of her husband to establish the first cancer research fund in the country, the Huntington Fund for Cancer Research. The hospital developed as the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.[3][4]

In 1913 she married Henry E. Huntington, a nephew of her late husband. She was his second wife. The couple were together until her death in 1924. Both are buried on the grounds of the Huntington Library. A memorial to Arabella Huntington was installed in the west wing of the Huntington Library building. It was dedicated in 1927, the year of Henry's death.

Art collection[edit]

Throughout her life, Arabella Huntington collected art, jewelry, antiques, and other luxury items. Her particular interests were in Old Masters, Medieval and Renaissance devotional images, and Louis XIV-Louis XV furniture and decorative arts.

At her death, her entire fortune and collections went to her son Archer Huntington. He donated many of her paintings to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. These included two Rembrandts, a Vermeer, and several hundred other paintings, most of which had belonged to her husband Collis. The majority of the contents of her primary residence on W. 57th St., including most of the artwork, was sent to auction. Many of the family's other belongings, including clothing, furniture, tapestries, and porcelain, were bequeathed to other institutions including Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut and the California Palace of the Legion of Honor art museum in San Francisco.

Some items are held within the collections of the Huntington Library. These were selected for an exhibition about Arabella Huntington in the Spring of 2006, entitled The Belle of San Marino.[5] Only the small collection of Medieval and Renaissance paintings at the Huntington Library were in Arabella's private own collection. Henry Huntington purchased these after her death from an auction set up by her son Archer.

The remainder of the objects in the 'Arabella Memorial Collection' at the Huntington were purchased after her death by Henry Huntington. They represent the types of objects she formerly owned, but are not the objects themselves.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Archer M. Huntington[edit]

Huntington's son Archer M. Huntington shared her love for art and culture. He was a great friend of non-profit organizations, especially museums. He was also one of the world's leading experts on Spanish poetry and was the founder of the Hispanic Society of America in New York City.

Death[edit]

Huntington died in New York City on September 16, 1924. She is buried at the Huntington Library's Mausoleum in San Marino, California.[7] Her husband Henry Huntington was buried there three years later after his death.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "List of United States Citizens (for the Immigration Authorities)", S.S. Aquitania sailing from Cherbourg 15 Oct 1921/ Arriving at New York 21 Oct 1921, Available via Ancestry.com
  2. ^ a b c "His mother's son". New York Social Diary. Vol. VI no. 155. October 5, 2006. Archived from the original on October 22, 2006. Retrieved October 18, 2006.
  3. ^ Bennett, Shelley M. (1 May 2013). The Art of Wealth: The Huntingtons in the Gilded Age. San Marino, CA: Huntington Library Press. p. 350. ISBN 978-0-87328-253-6.
  4. ^ "Historical Timeline". Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Archived from the original on 2014-07-28. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  5. ^ Arabella Archived September 26, 2006, at the Wayback Machine)
  6. ^ Watters, Sam (14 May 2011). "Lost L.A.: Huntington's private tribute to wife Arabella". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2014-04-29. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
  7. ^ "Arabella Duval "Bell" Yarrington Huntington". Find a Grave. Ancestry.com. Retrieved October 1, 2019.

Additional sources[edit]

  • Robert W. Wark. "Arabella Huntington and the Beginnings of the Art Collection." The Founding of the Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery. San Marino, CA: Huntington Library, 1969.
  • Wilson. The Mauseoleum of Henry and Arabella Huntington. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2005.

External links[edit]