Oral history interview with Anna Hyatt-Huntington, circa 1964

Huntington, Anna Vaughn Hyatt , b. 1876 d. 1973
Sculptor
Active in New York, N.Y.

Size: Sound recording: 1 sound tape reel ; 5 in.
Transcript: 53 p.

Collection Summary: An interview of Anna Hyatt-Huntington conducted circa 1964, by Dorothy Seckler, for the Archives of American Art.

Hyatt-Huntington speaks of having no formal art training; studying animals and their anatomy; first piece with her sister; Balchalx Circus; New York at age 24 sculpting and selling pieces; her stays in France and Naples; use of old Daubigny studio; sources of animals for models; New York studio; methods of work; process of enlarging pieces; period of illness; her marriage to Archer Huntington; sculptures, "Joan of Arc," "Don Quixote," "Touch of Arrow," "Lion"; realism in her work; travels in Spain, North Africa; and Thomas W. Lawson, Archer Huntington, and Brookgreen Gardens.

Biographical/Historical Note: Animal sculptor, Bethel, Conn., b. 1876; d. 1973

This interview is part of the Archives' Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and others.

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Interview Transcript

This transcript is in the public domain and may be used without permission. Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Anna Hyatt-Huntington, circa 1964, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Interview with Anna Hyatt Huntington
Conducted by Dorothy Seckler
In Connecticut
December 14, 1964


Preface

The following oral history transcript is the result of a tape-recorded interview with Anna Hyatt Huntington on December 14, 1964. The interview was conducted in Bethel, Connecticut by Dorothy Seckler for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Interview

DS: DOROTHY SECKLER
AH: ANNA HYATT HUNTINGTON

DS: This is Dorothy Seckler interviewing on December 14 Anna Hyatt Huntington in Bethel, Connecticut. I was interested in getting a bit on the record about this illness of, did you say a decade's duration, roughly?

AH: Well, it was from a period of about ten years, from '27 to '37.

DS: That was a period in which you traveled a good bit, too.

AH: Well, the reason for that prolonged period of T.B. was that I wouldn't stop work. I kept doing fairly good-sized things all during that period.

DS: This was the period of El Cid.

AH: No, I had already done my El Cid, but I did things like the Diana and four or five life size animal groups and things like that all during that period.

DS: Was it diagnosed immediately as T.B.?

AH: Right away, yes. And we went to Spain during that period.

DS: Your El Cid had already been installed in Seville?

AH: Had already been installed, yes. And my husband wanted to see it and also he was a friend of then King Alfonso of Spain and he wanted very much to go there and see him and talk over things. So we were fortunate enough to get there before he was dethroned or he abdicated. That was in '29.

DS: And he was dethroned soon afterwards; I want to get that straight in mind.

AH: I think in '30 or very soon after that.

DS: How did he impress you?

AH: He was really a very fine figure. He was a very fine man and he ruled Spain well and did them a great deal of good during his period. After that there were revolutions immediately when he went out and up until this man Franco came in who has given Spain twenty-five years I think now of peace. In spite of the fact that people decry him and all that sort of thing, he's really been excellent for Spain. It's the first time they're had twenty-five years of peace in Spain and more or less prosperity.

DS: Does your husband feel that way about Franco?

AH: Yes, very much so.

DS: How do you feel the art as progressed under . . . I mean as contrasted with the period you knew with Alphonso and the period under Franco?

AH: Well, I know the best sculptor in Spain. In fact I think he's the best sculptor in Europe and that is Juan Deavolos who has done some very fine things in Spain, wonderful things, under Franco so it seems to me that Spain has had some very fine results under him. I don't know if you know Juan Deavolos' work or not, do you?

DS: No, I don't, I'm sorry to say. Is this heroic . . . ?

AH: Yes, he does enormous things -- very beautifully composed monuments. I will show you some samples of his work; I have some photographs of it in the sitting room.

DS: He's still living there?

AH: Yes and Franco has ordered a monument to be put up to my husband and also to me at the same time on which Deavolos is working now. I'll show you photographs of the idea of it.

DS: There is one already in Guatemala, isn't there? To you and your husband?

AH: No. I tell you you're right; there is a relief, a bas-relief, and I think it's just the heads, yes, you're right. This is rather a larger monument. Deavolos' pictures are funny.

DS: This is fascinating, this story of Spain and your early visit there. At this time you were well enough, I take it, to travel and you weren't simply confined to bed. Did you have a studio in Spain and do sculpture there too?

AH: No. I didn't work at all in Spain. In fact we were traveling most of the time. Not in Spain itself . . . we went first to North Africa, that's where we were principally going -- on the edges in Spain.

DS: Were you going there to see certain animals there, perhaps?

AH: No, just my husband wanted to see North Africa. He'd never been there and that was naturally a very fascinating part for any Spanish scholar.

DS: Yes, I suppose so.

AH: And he spoke Arabic.

DS: Yes. I read that he had prepared himself to study Spanish culture in so many ways including even studying medicine because he thought he might be on archaeological expeditions.

AH: That's right. He thought he might have to go to the Gobi Desert and that sort of thing.

DS: Did he ever?

AH: No, he never did. He was thinking of it very much as a younger man.

DS: Did you become involved in some extent in his archaeological explorations after your marriage?

AH: No. We went and saw some of the places he had been excavating.

DS: What kinds of cultures were they exploring? What period?

AH: I don't know. I've forgotten now just what the period was. But he found . . . there were a number of things in the Hispanic that he collected there in the excavations.

DS: In your younger life apparently you were very closely tied to France? Your ancestry as I understand is French and at first I believe that you were very close to French sculpture?

AH: No, just my husband wanted to see North Africa. He'd never been there and that was naturally a very fascinating part for any Spanish scholar.

DS: Yes, I suppose so.

AH: And he spoke Arabic.

DS: Yes. I read that he had prepared himself to study Spanish culture in so many ways including even studying medicine because he thought he might be on archaeological expeditions.

AH: That's right. He thought he might have to go to the Gobi Desert and that sort of thing.

DS: Did he ever?

AH: No, he never did. He was thinking of it very much as a younger man.

DS: Did you become involved in some extent in his archaeological explorations after your marriage?

AH: No. We went and saw some of the places he had been excavating.

DS: What kinds of cultures were they exploring? What period?

AH: I don't know. I've forgotten now just what the period was. But he found . . . there were a number of things in the Hispanic that he collected there in the excavations.

DS: In your younger life apparently you were very closely tied to France? Your ancestry as I understand is French and at first I believe that you were very close to French sculpture?

AH: Well, it was the Joan of Arc that I'd been interested in, you see. I started off by going to first to France and doing an independent Joan of Arc there in Paris.

DS: Had you read that Mark Twain . . . I understand that Mark Twain's book had something to do with it. Had you read it here?

AH: I read it here and became very much intrigued with our history . . . .

DS: And you envisioned it as sculptural material?

AH: More as a challenge, you see. Every French sculptor has done his Joan of Arc, and is sure to, so that she'd been done in light of every imaginable form as far as I could see. And my challenge was to get a composition that was original, that hadn't really been done before. That was the fun of it.


DS: Well, apparently the French recognized your victory over this problem and your resolution if it in giving you an honorable mention in that first show.

AH: But, curiously enough, they said that what I'd been doing, because I worked entirely by myself and did all the building up of the life-size horse and everything, they said it was impossible for a woman to do it. Therefore they couldn't give me a real medal because they could not believe I had done it all myself.

DS: Well, it's too bad you didn't have a moving picture camera there to report you.

AH: If I had had something like this apparatus or something . . . .

DS: There are some uses for this technology although it words us down at times. So that was a full scale. Was it the same size as the one . . . ?

AH: No, when I redid the Joan I did it a little larger -- I did it life and a quarter and the first one I did by myself was just lifesize.

DS: When you came to France and had this idea already apparently before you a little bit, what sculpture that you saw in France, or saw previously, was the most influential in forming your sense of, well, of style, the way you wanted to treat the form itself?

AH: I'm afraid I've never . . . they say I have a style but I never knew it.

DS: Well, did you admire Rodin a great deal, or Bourdelle?

AH: I admired a great many French sculptors. I mean there were so many in those days. Perhaps Remai's Joan was the one I admired a great deal for its very decadent quality.

DS: And yet your own work is so different.

AH: Well, it's just straight-forward work, that's all.

DS: You began of course with this very strong emphasis coming from the interest in naturalism of your father. I remember reading somewhere that his advice to you was not to go to art school but simply to study the animals and study the anatomy and that would be your best teacher. Do you remember how he came to say that? Were you thinking of going to art school at the time?

AH: Yes, I was, because my sister was going to art school a great deal of the time and it was through her influence really that I started working because she wanted me to. She wanted to do a group which combined a boy and an animal and she said, "I can't do animals; I don't know anything about them and you've studied animals ever since you were knee-high to a grasshopper." So she said, "You do the animal for me and we'll combine." So I said, "OK. I'll do the animal." I'd never done anything before might compete.

DS: How old were you then?

AH: I was around seventeen or eighteen I guess. But my main object in life was to be a violinist. I studied violin for about seven or eight years, very hard. I started about fourteen and later on I found that sculpture was more my line so I turned way and did sculpture purely.

DS: Did your sister continue to pursue her work in sculpture for a long time?

AH: Not for a very long time because she married and that took all her attention. Later on she took it up and did some sculpture but not to carry on the way she did before. We have two very fine pieces of hers down at Brookgreen. We have no dessert.

DS: Well, this was a dessert; it was very delightful.

AH: There are bananas if you care for them. I have them along with cheddar potatoes.

DS: That's a nice combination of vegetables and fruit.

AH: Well, they're very healthy and digestible. My sister was really responsible for my going into sculpture.

DS: Your family had built her some sort of a studio in your backyard of your house?

AH: Yes, father built a studio for us right there in the back yard which naturally facilitated everything we wanted to do. He was extremely generous although he was a poor professor on poor professor pay. But he managed to do it just the same because he wanted to encourage us every possible way. He was fairly in sympathy with that sort of thing. So of course I had nothing to contend with starting in. I had nothing at all; they were only too generous and helpful in every possible way. Then I was very lucky later on just as soon as I began to produce in having Thomas W. Lawson take up my work through the company, the Shreve Crump and Low Company, in Boston. They were the silversmiths from there and they had my work on exhibition in bronze and he saw it there and liked it very much and he wanted everything I could produce at that time, which was tremendously helpful, you see. He was very instrumental in my being able to carry on all my work.

DS: Were you about twenty by this time?

AH: I was around 24 when I went to New York and was earning my living.

DS: By selling sculptures?

AH: Yes.

DS: That's very unusual.

AH: It is. It was a very competitive market, too. Especially in the line of animals, as it were. There were two or three excellent animals sculptors who were well known at that time in New York.

DS: Who did you consider the best one at that time?

AH: I am trying to think of his name now, the names escape me very much; maybe I'll think of them later on. Phimister Proctor was one, he was one of the biggest. And Dallon I think the name was, another man who did some equestrian statues and that sort. I think Proctor was the one who did nearly all of Mr. French's horses on his equestrian statues and that sort of thing. He was a very fine sculptor. So I had a good deal of competition.

DS: When you came here you had already had a little bit of art study in Boston but it wasn't too important to you?

AH: Well, I studied really with my sister who gave me my early training.

DS: With whom had she studied?

AH: She studied with Kitzon, Henry Hudson Kitzon. I was in his studio once or twice and that sort of thing but I never had any criticism from him. But my sister Harriet was the one who was instrumental in giving me my first insight into sculpture.

DS: What was the difference in your ages; she was your older sister?

AH: Yes, she was about eight years older than I was so she was well established.

DS: You had a brother, too, I believe?

AH: My brother was living in Maryland; he had a farm down at a little place called Portobello.

DS: What part of Maryland is that in?

AH: That's on the St. Mary's River that goes down into the Potomac.

DS: This is toward Washington, then?

AH: No, you might call it the mouth of the Potomac that goes into Chesapeake and the St. Mary's went down and joined the Potomac right there.

DS: Beautiful country.

AH: Lovely country.

DS: Fields growing down to the water is what always seemed to me absolutely beautiful.

AH: The whole farm as it went around was on the St. Mary's River, you see and it was a very beautiful location. At that time the only communication -- there were no railroads there at all and hardly any roads -- was the boat that ran from Baltimore to Washington and it stopped at all the little places going down.

DS: Yes, I remember.

AH: Were you ever on that boat?

DS: Oh, indeed I was, many times and I used to love it when they would tie up at a wharf and load on tomatoes and melons and corn.

AH: And the pigs and the cows and even the horses.

DS: And everything. And you had models there to work from?

AH: Yes, oh yes, I worked down at his farm. I went there during the period that I was in New York. I used to go down very frequently to the farm and especially in the winter time. He had horses and cows and everything of that sort, and I trained colts and I had a beautiful time riding all over the place.

DS: I'm a little mixed up on your relationship to the Balchalx Circus.

AH: That was very early, before I went to New York and I went in there to study the animals; they allowed me. I don't know why they ever did it, but they allowed me to go there during training hours before the public came in and generally people were not allowed around. The trainers didn't like the distraction to their animals and that sort of thing.

DS: You sketched from that, of course?

AH: Well, I made my little models right there.

DS: Oh, you took clay there?

AH: Yes, oh yes.

DS: Well, that's amazing. You ordinarily did not work from sketches; you worked directly in the clay?

AH: Directly in the clay. I never did any drawing.

DS: That I didn't know.

AH: That is, I used to sketch sometimes in the fields, the horses, but I never really did any real work, real sketches. When I first went to New York when I was 24 and had to get an apartment with a studio and things like that, I didn't want to be alone in New York and so I got in with several girls who were interested in sculpture and music and things like that. Abastenia Eberle was the sculptor.

DS: You worked with her for a bit, didn't you?

AH: Yes, we did one or two things in compositions together and she was a very talented person, very talented. Then there were two musical girls who had a trio. Also Stennie, Stennie played the cello with these two violinists. So that made it very pleasant.

DS: It must have been a very exciting household.

AH: Well, we worked hard; we worked awfully hard.

DS: Well, at that time I would assume you must have admired a good many of the same people and had a good bit that you shared.

AH: Oh, yes, yes. Stennie of course was studying very hard, and she studied both piano and cello as well as her own work so that she was a very busy person, and the other two girls played in an orchestra and they would go off on weekends and play down in resorts. We were a very busy crowd. We didn't have parties all the time or anything of that sort. We were too dead tired at night.

DS: I saw a photograph of you and Miss Eberle working on an animal group, as I recall. Was that something that proved practical, for two people to work on the same piece?

AH: Well, I think it was only an exhibition piece as I remember. We did a bull-fighting piece or something of that sort and she did the man's figure. I don't know what became of it.

DS: Did you remain friends for a long time afterwards?

AH: Well, I've forgotten just the period but we were together i think several years.

DS: Were you studying at the League at that time?

AH: I went a little bit to the League under MacNeil.

DS: Was your work with him at all influential in changing your way of thinking about the animal forms at all?

AH: I doubt it. I had my own idea that I was just portraying the animals as they were; I never thought about how to portray them in any different styles or anything of that sort. I just worked at them and made them as natural as possible. That was my one idea and that has always been my one idea in doing anything -- to try to get the animal itself without thinking about how it was done or any definite style, you see.

DS: Had you at this point already made large sculptures, life size sculptures of animals, when you were studying at the League?

AH: No, I think not, because it was after that that I went the other side, after that period.

DS: About 1906 it was, 1906 or 7.

AH: Around that date, yes.

DS: How did you happen to go at that time?

AH: My family was going over; my sister with her children and Mother and we went to the other side I think first. We were at one or two places in England and that sort of thing before we settled in France, in a little place on the Loire River, and we got a house. Harriet and I didn't speak French at all at that time and never did anyway, very well, But we went into this little village where no one spoke English, so by sign language and various other things, we contracted for a very charming little house with a walled French garden and that sort of thing. Also, I found a studio about a half a mile from the house that had been occupied by Daubigny in the old days, which made it very interesting and our bad French accomplished that much, anyway.

DS: You actually did some work in that studio, I believe.

AH: Yes, I did some things for the first time I was in the Salon, a couple of jaguars.

DS: Well, did you actually have models that you could use?

AH: I used to go back and forth to some of the zoos there and made just small sketches, you see.

DS: You mean in clay?

AH: In clay. And then took the sketches to the studio and enlarged them.

DS: You'd have a series of little clay impressions of the jaguars?

AH: Yes, fairly detailed sketches. What you have to calculate on with animals is they never pose; you have to catch them and try to get a pose that you can find out the muscles in one leg and if they were trotting or walking or something of that sort. You had to watch the muscles all the time; at least that's the way I did it, and put down the correction and then enlarge it for the large things. That's the way you have to do animals anyway; they never pose, absolutely. They're always on the move.

DS: Well, of course Rodin I think was considered radical when he first did human figures, letting the models walk around; people thought that was very daring. But of course when you do animals you had to do it in any case. According to Mrs. Prosky, in your late work there is a sense of change in style; she feels that you now model animals in a kind of short-hand treatment where there is a greater linearism and a tendency to use sharply defined shadows. Would that represent a departure from this earlier concept of feeling that you were just doing the animal as it was?

AH: Well, I'm afraid I'm not aware myself of having changed. Because I've never paid any attention to style, never thought about it one way or another. As I say, my only object was to do something that was characteristic of an animal.

DS: And still, when you're making an equestrian monument, let's say, there certainly is a need for a very strong sense of design in keeping a main force of direction so that the directions, instead of getting scattered, are sort of cumulative and form very strong relationships.

AH: Well, maybe that's more from experience than from any special thought. Although when you're doing something that's in action, you naturally want to make everything agree and accent that speed or whatever it is.

DS: In the case of the St. Joan it strikes me as having such a fine feeling of the movement mounting up to the height of the upraised hand, and the angle of the sword being almost at eight angles to the driving energy through the rest of the figure.

AH: Well, the whole idea was that I remember reading before she went into battle she had acquired a new sword, that is, a sword that she had found somewhere. And when she went into battle, she unconsciously raised it to heaven to ask the blessing of the Lord on it before she went into battle. That was the idea of the statue, that she was asking the Lord to praise the sword, the bless the sword.

DS: And that was an original conception? I assume that as other sculptor in France had chosen that moment.

AH: Well, apparently they hadn't. Because I looked over all that I could find in the Joans, and there were a great many, of course, that has been done there. And that was my idea to get something that was a different thought from the others.

DS: And I understand you had assistance on the armor that Joan wore in battle?

AH: Yes. At the time the head of the armor department in the Metropolitan said no Joan had ever been done before that had the correct 15th century armor, which is a very plain armor and also very early armor so it was very difficult to get together a whole set of them. But he managed to at the Metropolitan and there was a young man that he knew who put on the armor and I photographed it.

DS: On a horse?

AH: Well, one of those imitation horses, wooden horses, they have. So that I could work from photographs because the armor itself was too valuable to take away to the studio or anything of that sort, you see. So with the photographs I was able to get the correct armor.

DS: It looks most graceful actually.

AH: Well, it's a very lovely simple armor of that time; it's a very simple and direct and perhaps followed the figure better than some of the later more elaborate ones that were done.

DS: It seems marvelously to lend itself to the expression of the sculpture.

AH: Well, personally I don't see how Joan ever went into battle with that armor on, because I remember -- I've forgotten the date now -- but they had a big pageant in the old Madison Square Garden and they wanted a Joan to lead the procession. I'd done my Joan so they asked me if I wouldn't do it. They knew I rode a horse, and we managed to get together a hired armor, not of the period but near as possible. I put it on and it was the most uncomfortable thing you ever could imagine to ride in. I don't know how she ever managed to be active and go into battle with it because it was a very stiff, heavy, uncomfortable thing. I had to be lifted on the horse; I couldn't get up otherwise.

DS: I hope they took a photograph of you doing that. Did they?

AH: I don't think they did; it would have been a most awkward piece of work.

DS: Well, coming back to the period where you were in France -- we've been jumping back and forth from that period -- you were in Daubigny's studio and then you went down to Naples afterwards I believe and did some animals there.

AH: Yes, yes, I had a lion to do for . . . .

DS: Dayton, Ohio.

AH: Dayton, yes, that's right. And I went down there principally because the casting was within the price I could manage to have this thing done. I couldn't cast it on this side because it was much too expensive. So I found out at Naples there was a very good casting firm there, very reasonable, and they had a studio in which I could go right into, a studio which was cut back right in the cliffs there, with a large window in front. And there I did my lion and had it cast in plaster and then into the bronze, right there.

DS: The one that you did of Joan in Paris, was that presented at the Salon in bronze?

AH: No, it was in plaster cast.

DS: And then of course you came back to the United States and I suppose it was here that you learned you'd won the honorable mention?

AH: No, I exhibited the Joan while I was over there, you see. And I managed to get into the Salon which was in the springtime before I went home and I saw it in there and was able to be presented with the thing and so forth. But it was very nice.

DS: Then you went home?

AH: And then I had to come back here, all my money gave out.

DS: Then when you came back it was around 1911. And at this point I believe was it Mr. Saltus that had seen your Joan in France and liked it?

AH: That's true, yes, that's true. There was a committee for putting up a Joan of Arc statue in New York.

DS: Had it existed before you had made yours?

AH: The committee had gotten together before that and Saltus had been around Europe. They delegated him to chose the one and he'd been all around Europe looking at the different Joans and he happened in the Salon where my model was and seemed to like it very much. So they interviewed me in New York and got me to do the Joan for Riverside Drive.

DS: Yes. What was the name of that committee exactly?

AH: I think they called it the Joan of Arc Statue committee, if I remember rightly.

DS: I believe it had several important people on it, including the French writer. Was it Pierre Rotier?

AH: There were quite a number of people on that committee, I remember.

DS: So you were commissioned around 1911 to do it?

AH: I think it must have been around that period, yes. I did that in New York, of course.

DS: Where was your studio at the time you were working on the St. Joan?

AH: I had a studio, I think it was on 35th Street, if I remember rightly. It was one I had built. I had to have a higher one especially for that, you see, because it was a large piece of work.

DS: Well, did you have to have a horse in the studio?

AH: No. Because when I was over in Paris I had worked directly from a horse at the Beaux Art store, what's it called again? I've forgotten the name of it now. They had lot of horses because at that period, of course, it was all horse-drawn vehicles and they had a number of very fine horses and they were very proud of their handsome horses that they had there. I went to . . . somewhere I got an introduction to the stables there and the man would take out the horses and trot them up and down for me while I was working and finally they sent a very handsome horse to my studio. Fortunately it was a studio where the horse could walk in so that I had a very good detailed study of the horse, and from that I could do the other one.

DS: These people that had these horses, was this a kind of store, did you say?

AH: It was the Magasin de Beaux Arts.

DS: I never heard that.

AH: Well it may not be in existence now but it was a very well-known store at that time.

DS: And these horses delivered their packages?

AH: That's right, yes. They were the delivery horses.

DS: So the worst problem was solved and yet you had to make it larger than life-size now . . . ?

AH: Well, yes. I didn't do that. There was an enlarger in New York at that time who did that enlargement for me.

DS: And what did he work from?

AH: He worked from a model. A half-size model that I gave him.

DS: Which was a model you made from the French one. In plaster or clay?

AH: Well, of course it had to be in plaster, otherwise he couldn't do any measurements on it.

DS: And he enlarged it . . . ?

AH: To life and a quarter.

DS: Yes, in stone?

AH: No, in clay.

DS: I know it was completed in bronze. And then the figure had to be modeled completely fresh?

AH: Yes.

DS: Or was that done in the same process?

AH: Well, the armature was done for me and then I modeled the figure in clay.

DS: I saw a photograph or one of your armatures for a horse and I thought it was very fascinating. I would love to get a photograph or reproduction of one of your great armatures.

AH: Well, there is a photograph in one of the encyclopedias of the armature of the Cid horse.

DS: Do you remember which encyclopedia it might be in?

AH: At the time it was the encyclopedia.

DS: Britannica I suppose.

AH: Yes, I think so.

DS: The Hispanic wouldn't have it, would they?

AH: They might have a reproduction of it or they might know something about it.

DS: So that's how Joan was done and this went on for several years. Were you doing other things at the same time you were working on Joan?

DS: I couldn't very well because I had to concentrate, and I was also in a different studio from my regular work. I had to concentrate on the Joan and it also had to be done on time.

DS: When it was finished and apparently everyone was very pleased with it . . . ?

AH: The committee liked it very much.

DS: A very gala occasion when . . . .

AH: When they put it up, yes.

DS: And there was a letter from President Wilson?

AH: I think so. I know it was quite an occasion when they put it up.

DS: Were you there when . . . ?

AH: The dedication? Yes, I was there. It was about the only dedication I ever went to.

DS: It must have been a wonderful day. Then at that time you were living in New York, of course. At that time were you sharing the studio with . . . ?

AH: Yes, and it was still I think with Stennie Eberle, I think, in the other studio. I think we had one on 59th Street at that time where she was working too and where the apartment was.

DS: Yes, and this brings us up to 1915 and then around what would be the next big important thing that happens, I suppose. You were commissioned to do a medal by Mr. Huntington who later became your husband. But that was around 1921, wasn't it?

AH: I guess it was -- it was later on.

DS: There are some references to the fact that your summers were spent, some of them, at your farm in New England.

AH: Yes, down on Cape Ann. We had a Cape Ann place, an old family place where we'd been for years. I was almost born there, and father and mother lived there for a long time. That was near Dorcester, not very far from Dorcester, a little place called Anisquam and my nephew, Hyatt Mayor, still goes there. He has the old house and also the old studio I had and my sister worked there too. In fact that's where . . . .

DS: You sister is his mother, of course?

AH: Yes, that's right. I did my first little Joan of Arc composition there in that little studio. Oh yes, we've been there for a long time.

DS: And there was a period you were living, in order to get animal models, you were living for some time in Brooklyn doing animals?

AH: At the park there, at the zoo, Brooklyn zoo.

DS: And there was another period when you were living near the Bronx Zoo for a while.

AH: Yes. Mother and I went up to a boarding house there and we were there almost one winter, I think, almost. I did a lot of animal studies there, right there in the Bronx.

DS: And that brings us up to the period of the Twenties and to the period of your marriage.

AH: That was in '23. It was when I started the Cid.

DS: Now the Cid must have reflected the enthusiasm of your husband and I'm sure it became your enthusiasm too.

AH: Yes, naturally. He did the life of El Cid.

DS: Was that his own poem?

AH: That was his own poem, yes. It was a translation of the Cid poem and the life of the Cid, as it were, and when I read that I saw what a magnificent figure it was to do, tremendous challenge. It was great fun. And then I had his help on the details and that sort of thing and also his enthusiasm for it.

DS: Yes, how did you envision it?

AH: Going into battle.

DS: He has a kind of fierceness and strength.

AH: And all those little things were done at the same time within a year or so, the four figures around, and then there were the two flagpoles; those were done about the same period. And then there were six animal groups or studies also that are there in the Hispanic courtyard. Those I did during the period when I wouldn't submit to the T.B.

DS: That was begun about 1927 . . . and that was only a few years after your marriage. The sculpture of the first Cid, however, the original one, was given to Seville, wasn't that correct?

AH: The first one went to the Hispanic.

DS: Oh, it did? The accounts in the encyclopedias really vary -- some of them give the one at the Hispanic as a replica.

AH: Well, they're all the same thing, you know, because they're all taken from the same plaster cast, you see. They are all really originals when you come down to it, only they were done in successive stages so that the first one that was done went to the Hispanic and then the second one I think went to Seville, that's right. There were five of them altogether.

DS: How did you happen to decide on Seville rather than, say, other Spanish cities?

AH: It was the King.

DS: Oh, I see, he wanted it there.

AH: In fact I think there was some contention over that. He wanted it there and somebody wanted it somewhere else, and that's the reason that later on I got them to make a replica of the Cid for Valencia because Valencia wanted it very much and so there is a copy from the original Cid which they had to do by making another plaster cast, another model, another plaster cast, very complicated way of doing things but that was the only way they could get another Cid.

DS: Was that much later?

AH: It was only a few years ago, you see.

DS: Oh yes, in Valencia.

AH: Yes. And then at the same time they wanted a copy of my Torch of Arrow; it is in Madrid, so they have those two things in Valencia now.

DS: The Torch of Arrow, is that in aluminum?

AH: No, I think they are both in bronze, I think so although I may be mistaken. I've forgotten, really.

DS: Coming back to the period of your illness then, you had during your illness gone to Spain as you said before and you were fighting it. You saw the King there and were there any other important episodes in Spain that we should include in our story?

AH: I don't know because we weren't there very long.

DS: Then you went to North Africa . . . ?

AH: No, we first went to North Africa . . . .

DS: And then Spain and then back home and working on the other figures to join the Hispanic ensemble and still fighting illness and at no point giving up, no interruption at all, except for that year in Switzerland.

AH: When I was in Switzerland, yes. And then when they sent me to Arizona, I couldn't work either.

DS: What year was that roughly?

AH: That was later on.

DS: Between '32 and '37 then?

AH: It must have been, yes, somewhere along in there.

DS: Well, that was a very long fight.

DS: Well, at that time people said that you couldn't get over T.B. unless you gave in to it absolutely and went to bed and stayed in bed. And I realized if I did that and followed the physician's advice, which was decidedly that, that I'd just have to give up, that's all, because you get weak and I realized that. After they kept me a week in bed, I realized that I couldn't do it. So when I was in Lausanne in the sanitorium, unbeknownst to the doctor or the nurse or anybody else, when the nurse was off and when I was alone, I got up and walked. I didn't stay in bed but got my exercise and kept my physique up. It was very funny . . . the last time I was there I was going to the little station to go home and the doctor and nurse both came to help me and we had to walk a certain distance to the train and they took my arms on both sides to assist me along and the doctor said, "Well! You seem to be able to walk perfectly well!" I didn't tell them.

DS: It must have taken great courage.

AH: No, it didn't take any courage; it just took a certain amount of obstinacy on my part. I was extremely obstinant. I wouldn't give in. Of course I couldn't work the whole day long as I was able to do before. In all fairness to the medical association today, they do not allow people with T.B. to stay in bed absolutely -- they don't consider that good treatment.

DS: You were prophetic.

AH: So that in a way by being obstinant I followed out the more modern treatment.

DS: That's very interesting. They didn't at any point collapse a lung or anything?

AH: No, they threatened to but fortunately my husband said he would not allow it. They were quite convinced that I would have to have a lung collapsed and fortunately Archer also had the obstinacy.

DS: And he had a medical background to some extent.

AH: And he had a medical background. He said he would not allow it and it was very fortunate for me because otherwise they would have done it and I think that it would not have helped my case.

DS: Do you know of any particular circumstances that led finally to your getting over it?

AH: I think possibly it was the fact that we wanted to get out of New York. Archer felt he couldn't keep up his work; he was a poet, you know, as well as doing all the Hispanic work and things of that sort, and he wanted very much to devote himself to his poetry, So that he said, "We've got to get out of New York." And he didn't think it was very good for me. So first we went to a place called Haverstraw, just outside of New York; we were the for about five or six years, I think. There again he felt that he was too near New York and then he found a place up here and we came up here in '40. I think that getting out of New York was a very good thing for me -- city life is not good for anybody who has lung trouble and the growing atmosphere of new York, you see -- today it is impossible -- much worse than when we left there in '38.

DS: Yes. When you came here, you had, I understand from some of the stories, quite a zoo at one time.

ASH: We had that in Haverstraw -- and even some wild boars. We had quite an experience because they are really savage animals, extremely savage animals, and they broke out one day and went into the woods and the men had an extremely hard time. They didn't dare to go on foot; they went on horses to try and round them up. Fortunately, the place had a fence around it because we were afraid they might get into the village and they would have to be shot. We finally got them back. Yes, we also had bears and wolves.


[END OF SIDE A]


DS: Having the dates in order isn't too important in the preparation of our article, but new ways, new kinds of subjects, new ways of doing them would . . . .

AH: Well, I've been asked by different people to do things. For instance, when I was asked to do a Lincoln for Springfield, Illinois, I had to try to think of a Lincoln that hadn't been done before so I tried to think of him as a young man when he was in the circuit, when he was studying on horseback as he went along. After that I don't know, I think it was the Andrew Jackson -- I didn't want to do him as a General because he had been done a number of times so I thought of him as a young hillbilly boy, a young farm boy. So I put him in a farm boy's costume and set him astride bareback a horse. That was my idea of him that they seemed to like and that hasn't gone anywhere yet because it is in the process of being cast now but it will go one copy to Lancaster in South Carolina and then the Columbia College in Columbia, South Carolina also wants a copy. Then I've done a whole lot of little things in between, what I call exhibition pieces, and there are some exhibitions going on now. There's one in Waterbury, Connecticut now and they are local things entirely.

DS: I came across an item about a little one that you were working on a couple of years ago that you did more or less for fun -- Queen Isabella of Spain riding . . . .

AH: Yes. That was only about half-life and a copy is going down to St. Augustine of that -- they asked for it lately.

DS: When you do a full-size figure, and I assume Lincoln and Jackson were . . . ?

AH: I make sketches first, preliminary sketches and then enlarge them possibly to quarter size, and if they seem interesting then, I'll enlarge to half-life and there I make as correct a model as possible for enlarging because enlarging today is done mechanically by a machine on the order of a pentograph machine. It is a complicated and difficult machine. There are only about three of them in the country but nearly all sculptors today make use of these machines.

DS: Is that different from the old pointing machine?

AH: It is different from the old pointing machines as it was done by calipers or a very crude pointing machine like sometimes they use in model work. But this machine is absolutely correct; it gives you an absolute reproduction of whatever you give them to enlarge to any size that you want so that it saves a great deal of work. It saves a great deal of correction so it is an enormous help to sculptors today.

DS: As a matter of fact, when you see a thing on a large cale, does it always feel right to you?

AH: If you have done a correct half-life. You can tell in a half-life how it will look large . . . you have a very good vision of it large.

DS: It's always worked that way?

AH: It has so far. I hope it will . . . always will.

DS: How long has this machine been available to you?

AH: Let me see. When was the first one I did that? Well, I think that the Torchbearers was the first large one I had enlarged that way.

DS: Was that in the late Fifties? It must have been just before your husband's death. Was it?

AH: Yes. I finished the Torchbearers before he died because he sent the first copy over to Spain and so it must have been in the early Fifties.

DS: Was your husband very involved in Spanish affairs right up to the end of his life?

AH: When we came out here, his life was very much out here. Sometimes he went back to New York for the Hispanic because he looked after it very carefully as long as he was active. But his last year, or two years, was devoted absolutely to his poetry because he was not able to go about very much then so he sat at his desk and did a very wonderful . . . . I must give you that little book by the way. I don't think that you have it, his last 100 poems that he did all in his last two years which is a tremendous piece of work that he accomplished before his death. That was one of his aims and objects to do it.

DS: But he knew he was ill?

AH: He knew he had the feeling that his strength was giving out and that sort of thing. But he was 85 when he died so it was really a wonderful piece of work for him at that age.

DS: Well, speaking of the models, is there a name for that process particularly?

AH: They call it an enlarging machine on the order of the pentograph.

DS: And you took it to a place, not a casting place at all but something quite . . . .

AH: Well, this is a good size machine so it has to have a permanent home really. And now the main part of the enlarging they do for me is down in Westport and John Rutyavansky (?) who was at one time for a number of years James Fraser's principal man in his studio. He taught Rutyavansky (?) all the fine points of the enlarging so that he does a very fine piece of work now, a beautiful piece of work.

DS: Does this depend to any extent on some other individual's sensibility or is it something completely mechanical?

AH: It is completely mechanical, but at the same time it has to have somebody who is extremely able and conscientious to carry it out and to perfect it. I can show you some photographs of the machine.

DS: That would be interesting to see. The Don Quixote and . . . .

AH: Oh yes, I forgot The Don Quixote.

DS: That was enlarged by Bailey by the pointing method?

AH: Well, Bailey was a stone-cutter. The enlarging he did was entirely in stone and one of his last pieces of work down there was enlarging my what they call The Visionaries.

DS: I've never seen a photograph of that.

AH: That was one of his last pieces of work. He did a beautiful piece of work. Bailey was extraordinary.

DS: Has he died?

AH: Unfortunately, yes.

DS: And you think it was not he that did the stone-cutting on The Don Quixote . . . ?

AH: The Don Quixote down there is in aluminum.

DS: No, I mean the bas-relief.

AH: Oh, the Bas-relief. Oh, yes, I beg your pardon, he did do that.

DS: Now in that case he would do it from a clay or plaster model?

AH: He did it from a plaster model, half-life size plaster model. He did that and he did the Beau Abbeville which is the other piece on the other side. Those were reliefs and he did do the enlarging, too. I'd forgotten that.

DS: And of course you did a full round Don Quixote. Is there also a full-round Beau Abbeville?

AH: No. But the Quixote I did was a different Quixote in the round -- a little different composition.

DS: Yes, I thought it was.

AH: It's the only copy there is. I never did a replica of that.

DS: Then as we come along into the Fifties, were you both still very much involved with Brookgreen? Did you spent part of each year there?

AH: Well, the last time Archer went down was several years before that. I think that the last time he was able to go down was in '46 because it was quite a journey. We used to go down . . . in fact, we had I think one of the original trailers, one of the first trailers, and Archer had it built and we used to go back and forth in that and then he had a much better one. He took one of these Greyhound buses and transformed the inside into living quarters so that we could go back and forth in that. It was quite a bit of a journey down there -- it took overnight.

DS: You didn't fly at all.

AH: No, we never flew.

DS: Haven't you ever yet?

AH: I did finally -- it took too much time to go back and forth in the trailer.

DS: Did you enjoy it when you finally did it?

AH: To me, I don't know, I always thought about flying so much it was no different from what my thoughts were. Only the trouble was I went down in what I call a grasshopper plane. We went from one city to another; we landed five times before we got down there, that sort of thing. And, as I remember, the whole journey was in a fog.

DS: Well, that's not a very good introduction to flying, was it?

AH: It didn't worry me in the least, someway or another. It's very curious. Flying was exactly as I imagined it would be.

DS: Well, you're a brave spirit. I love it after you get on the plane -- the suffering you spend before it.

AH: Well, it's much more complicated now these days -- the air is too full today.

DS: Well, today do you still maintain some connection with Brookgreen?

AH: Oh yes, we have a committee, the Brookgreen Committee, that meets once a year, and I have considerable amount of correspondence and that sort of thing. The head director down there now, Gurdon Tarbox, sends me weekly reports so that I'm able to visualize and keep up with any small changes there are down there and that sort of thing.

DS: After you had made several enlargements of your own sculpture and you saw how beautiful it looked, then you began buying, purchasing . . . . Did you commission things from other artists?

AH: Archer did, but Archer was alive at that time and when we started in then we said it must be American, representative American, representative sculpture entirely. At that time there were a great many pieces already available that had been done and so forth, and then the other people who hadn't anything at that time Archer commissioned them.

DS: Who were some of the people whose work you were particularly close to that were commissioned or whose work is represented there?

AH: Well, all the prominent sculptors -- we knew them all, you see. There is a sculpture society and at that time we knew all the members of it and we were on the committees and so forth so that we knew pretty well what was going on and what was available.

DS: Who did you like? Who were your friends and whose work were your sympathetic to?

AH: Well, there would be a great many, of course. Gutzon Borglum was one of the men to whom I was called a pupil.

DS: Did he seem to have a strong influence on your work?

AH: I couldn't tell except I admired his work very much.

DS: And he's represented at Brookgreen?

AH: Yes, he has what he calls The Group of Mares, rushing horses -- very beautiful piece of work. It would be hard to remember all the names.

DS: Thinking of Brookgreen Gardens and certain avenues and how they looked, would that help you to recall some of the ones that you think have been most successfully placed down there?

AH: Well, of course the Frazers did beautiful work. Gloria Frazer's is a beautiful piece of work, hers is down there and also his -- I'm a very great admirer of their work. Gloria Frazer is doing some beautiful work now. You ought to go to her studio. Yes, she has a piece about twenty feet long there of what she calls in that western rush for land that they used to have, you know -- the first person would get the best lots and that sort of thing. A land rush or something like that, they called it. And it is an enormous piece of work, twenty feet long or more, of a hundred horses in it, beautifully done and with a mass movement that's delightful, awfully nice. It's a beautiful piece of work. And she is doing a great deal of work down there now. She is now doing something of Ben Franklin.

DS: Oh really?

AH: Yes. And she's been doing some very large panels for Westport -- beautifully done, beautifully done, beautiful piece of work. They are panels of American history, extraordinary piece of work.

DS: Well, I'll have to find out if the Archives has material on her work.

AH: Oh, I'm sure they must have. Oh, yes.

AH: There are over two hundred sculptors represented at Brookgreen.

DS: How large in fact is it?

AH: About ten acres . . . that is, of the sculpture gardens because Archer extended the middle garden on both sides before he died so that sculpture is not only in the middle garden but on the both sides. I think about ten acres altogether.

DS: But the whole . . . the tract of land that you bought is much larger, isn't it?

AH: Oh yes.

DS: The Natural Wild Game Preserve.

AH: Yes, it's a refuge for the wild animals -- deer and all sorts of little animals in the places around there.

DS: I understand it was the southernmost of a chain of wild life preserves that stretched all the way up to the Adirondacks.

AH: Yes, we had about 10,000 acres up to the Adirondacks, that was the first preserve he gave. He gave that to the Forestry Department of Syracuse University. And that is a really nature tract up there, entirely unspoiled and has about 19 lakes on it altogether. It's a beautiful tract of land. Then the next place he gave was the place near Haverstraw that we had and there I think are about 1,000 acres.

DS: Were the animals still there?

AH: A few of them, but not many. It's pretty thickly inhabited all around. Yes, Haverstraw, New City and all those places are all around it. And then this place will also eventually be park -- about 1,000 acres here that are quite unspoiled forests and there's a very pretty lake down there, that sort of thing.

DS: That's very close to my heart. I'm constantly worrying about the disappearance of our wildlife; it's so close to me. I was hoping that my son would grow up to be somebody who would try to work in the movement to save our forest land and wildlife but he took to psychology and decided to study people instead. I thought if I looked at my list of the photographs that I was interested in getting of your work that it might recall things that I wanted to ask you about. One of them was the white horses and the waves.

AH: I never did that large.

DS: It's a small model?

AH: It's a small model, yes.

DS: It is an awfully interesting one.

AH: I started to do it large but I forget what interfered. But the model was destroyed.

DS: It is destroyed?

AH: The large one that I started to do.

DS: But you still have a small one.

AH: Well, it is somewhere, in some museum; I don't know where.

DS: I thought it was an interesting conception.

AH: I call it The White Horses and the Sea.

DS: Well, I remember noticing of course that there are a number of animals that you seem particularly interested in the idea of movement -- one that I'm very fond of is a running elephant. Did you have a particular phase when you were more concerned with animals than at other times when you were less so?

AH: No, I don't think I ever did a piece that was very still.

DS: No, I don't see very much of that. It seems to me that this movement in your work takes you . . . ?

AH: Well, what is interesting in composition and everything else is that the animals always are in movement.

DS: And do you rely . . . you must, of course, since you make these models directly in clay, rely on a kind of memory image of the movement?

AH: Yes I do nowadays, yes, very largely. Having remembered so many things occasionally I feel that a picture of something starts a train of thought, or anything, or somebody says something and it starts a train of thought -- you never can tell what starts it.

DS: Or even a TV thing might start you thinking about something.

AH: You can never tell what. And you never can tell exactly what started it either or why it started. And that's the case when you're writing a piece of music, anything that you do in that line or any line -- you never can exactly tell what your start is. It's pretty hard to recall it.

DS: For instance, I remember a whole series in which you had a group of animals, apparently some form of monkey. I'm not sure if it was correctly a monkey or . . . ?

AH: I've done a lot of them.

DS: Was that one you had around you or was that just a period that you felt this kind of animal could be expressive to you at that time and then you went and found one?

AH: We had six or eight of them at Haverstraw of all kinds.

DS: Well, then, when you would have gone back to do a monkey years later from memory?

AH: Oh, very apt to -- something starts it up and you suddenly see something that is presented to you as a picture in mind.

DS: Are you just as much fascinated now as you were in the beginning with the details of the anatomy?

AH: Yes. Oh yes. Every little line perhaps will be expressive of what you're trying to do -- you never can tell what to convey to a person looking at the thing, to convey your idea.

DS: So you would never decide, for instance, to simplify or leave out, in the case or doing a horse?

AH: That doesn't interest me, no.

DS: You want to put it in if it is there.

AH: Because movement, or composition or anything like that, the expression of it and the meaning of it can be added to by your study.

DS: So it's never so much of leaving out anything -- it all can get in from your point of view.

AH: In fact, I think that you're never finished with anything.

DS: Someone just comes and takes it away and you say what to do now?

AH: Yes, that's what I say: "I think you'd better take this now."

DS: Do you ever find yourself in a position when you're making small models in which you're just getting into movement, being interested in that where it is less detailed?

AH: No, but I always carry on four or five things at a time so that when you get tired working on one you go to it with a fresh eye. A fresh eye always, nearly always, conveys something in correction or addition or something of that sort, so I like to keep several things going at one time even if I'm doing large work.

DS: When you start off forming this sketch, this tiny sketch, just getting in the main directions . . . ?

AH: Composition is practically the only thing you do in a little sketch.

DS: You're not putting in much in terms of details yet but you don't ever say to yourself, well, that's beautiful just as it is and leave it?

AH: No, but some people come along and say now don't touch that again.

DS: But to you it must have the detailed finish.

AH: Not in the very small thing, no. In the little sketch it is merely composition. That is to my feeling, and then it is only when you begin to enlarge it a little more, quarter-life or something of that sort . . . .

DS: And from your point of view the large thing always keeps the thing you like about the small one.

AH: Yes, only you nearly always make changes. In nearly every size you make some change.

DS: I would think that was logical.

AH: Yes.

DS: Well, to come back to my animals, I don't know why this list is eluding me here . . . . I was working on it this morning before coming up. According to Mrs. Prosky there is a feeling that one of the most recurring ideas in your work is the sense of struggle between instinct and, well, the controlling factor of reason. Is that anything conscious?

AH: I'm not intellectual enough.

DS: Well, you wouldn't formulate it to yourself then?

AH: No, somebody might interpret that way but I don't think I ever have any profound reasoning in anything I do. It is only interesting for the nature of the animals and the action and that's all. That's all I go by.

DS: It's interesting to me that you're able to see the animal, you can almost say, as an animal sees itself. You don't anthropomorphize it, you don't sentimentalize.

AH: No, but I feel the animal. I think it's all in knowing your animal and knowing how they act and being able to sort of feel it to yourself.

DS: For instance, when you're doing boar and here's an animal that you can't be very loving about perhaps . . . ?

AH: No, but you can know his belligerent attitude against everything.

DS: And you can sort of feel into that aspect of emotion.

AH: Yes. I think you have to feel that emotion in it. He's at odds with everything.

DS: It's kind of hard imagining you taking that position.

AH: Well, you can be in sympathy with him sometimes.

DS: Then of course there's a monkey with its kind of playful caprices and mischievousness.

AH: Yes. I did a monkey not long ago. I did another monkey grabbing her youngster by the tail, holding on to it. And I've often said, when my small great nephews and nieces are here, at times I wished they had a tail.

DS: Did you start doing it after they had visited you? I know that recently you've also done a series of small children. Were any of your family around? These younger nephews and nieces?

AH: I did my great great nephew not very long ago. His First Steps I called it. Fortunately they've had him up here since he was a little baby so I've seen a different steps in his age and it has been great fun in watching. I call that His First Steps and that's also going to be cast.

DS: I was interested very much in the story about the young Lettington girl and her work as a revolutionary rivaling the role of Paul Revere.

AH: Yes. The Paul Revere which was in '76 and I think she was in '77 and it was at the time when the British were burning Danbury and they were going through to burn the stores at West Point and her father was stationed on that route; he was in Carmel, near Brewster, New York. He was the colonel of a regiment and his regiment, as in those days, lived in the country in scattered houses and farms and that sort of thing, and it was during the night that he got the message from Danbury that the British were coming through and he said to his daughter, "I can't leave and there is no one else here." They were in the house there alone and he said, "Will you go on one of the horses and alert my troops? You know where they live." So she jumped on the horse; she was a good rider and off she tore to the different houses and she had to ride probably thirty miles from one house to another that night and she managed to alert all the troops so that before daylight they were all gathered at his house. From there they went, the small regiment of them, to Ridgefield where they know that the British were coming. And at that time, fortunately for this small troop, the British had found a large store of liquor in Danbury so that the British had drunk a good deal of whiskey before they got on the road. So by the time they reached Ridgefield, they were in no condition to form and fight the Colonial troops that met them and so they were defeated there on the road and had to go back to Westport and it stopped their main drive. So General Washington thought that her mission, riding that night to alert the troops, was a very important thing and he came way up from Washington to congratulate her.

DS: And her name was Sybil.

AH: Sybil Lettington. And she is not mentioned unfortunately in American history.

DS: When did you do your sculpture of her, which is the one that is at Carmel now?

AH: I must have done it about . . . well, I did it before I did the Lincoln so it was several years back. I've forgotten really -- I should have better memory.


[BREAK]


DS: What is your day like right now?

AH: Well, I get up at six o'clock. I have a little quiet alarm that doesn't raise the rest of the household and then I go out and feed my birds. I have number of birdfeeders out here and with a great many very hungry birds in the morning that sit there and wait for me, and they always have to be fed whether it's snowstorm or rain storm or whatever it is; they are always hungry. So I'm feeding them, and then breakfast and that sort of thing, and then I have quite a large correspondence these days so that most of my morning is devoted to letters. Then in the afternoon after a one o'clock lunch I go down to the studio and work there until dark, and then I come up and watch TV.

DS: The 20th Century has been here.

AH: Well, it is. It's a great convenience when you're living in the country. You are away from the theatres, you're away from lectures and all that sort of thing, so that the TV supplies . . . it keeps you up with the times and what's going on. And in the morning at breakfast I also watch the Today Show.

DS: The Today Show would love to have you on, I bet.

AH: I'm afraid I'm not a very good interviewee when it comes to that sort of thing.

DS: It would be so wonderful. I'd better not tell them.

AH: Don't please. And then too I don't think I'm topical enough for TV. They want the people that are talked about today.

DS: You are topical enough. But I was wondering what you think about some of the contemporary art you see on TV. They do have some programs that they show art on sometimes?

AH: Well, you know that I'm very much of a conservative. I'm a great conservative in politics. I was for Goldwater. I stuck out my neck for Goldwater in the very early days.

DS: But he isn't a conservative, is he?

AH: Oh, yes, yes. And then that follows through for art. The modernists are undoubtedly extremely interesting to a great number of the young people today, but they don't satisfy me very much.

DS: Well, coming into the early Twentieth Century, Despiau, would he have been someone that you felt was acceptable?

AH: Well, I'm not too familiar with his work. Of course I was always an admirer of Rodin.

DS: Didn't he bother you when he did things with surfaces that were blurry that so the anatomy was less . . . .

AH: No. Because his composition was generally interesting. In other words, like a sketch.

DS: Yes. Well, you must have some of that quality in your own sketches.

AH: All sketches are of that sort of blurry, merely an idea that you are going to carry on later on.

DS: Did you like Barnard in this country or St. Gaudens?

AH: Oh, St. Gaudens, yes indeed.

DS: Well, as your friend Abastenia Eberle seemed to respond to the Ash Can School thing of doing the everyday people doing everyday things, this never became important to you at that time?

AH: No, not at that time. Well, animals, as far as you're concerned with that, they're contemporary.

DS: Yes. You know you have a great advantage there.

AH: But lately, perhaps I've been following her footsteps on my Miss New York and so forth.

DS: I wondered if any of that had ever been related to your interest in TV -- some of the TV things that started you going on any of this?

AH: Well, I wasn't conscious of it, but I might have in that.

DS: So you're a little less of a conservative in some ways? I think that that story of your day is very interesting and this has been I gather something of your routine for a number of years?

AH: Oh, yes. I've always, in fact from the very early days when I was working down at the farm -- I always had to get up early when I got up to milk my own cows, clean stables, doing all that sort of thing. So it's been for many, many years I've been following that regime. Only today I don't happen to have . . . I have cows to milk, but I don't do it myself.

DS: Do you have cows?

AH: Yes, we keep a little barn.

DS: What other animals do you have here?

AH: Oh, chickens, we have some old horses; they are just eating at pasture now, that sort of thing.

DS: You can't use them very much for models now I suppose, or do you?

AH: I could if I wanted to do an old horse. A Quixote horse or something of that sort. I had a real sample of that sort of thing down south when I did the Rosanante, that was a real bony horse.

DS: You really had a model?

AH: I really had a model that was just about on his last legs, as it were, but I had to work very quickly because naturally when you get a horse of that type in your stable, you have to feed him and you want to feed him and he's very hungry so that within a month he was quite a different-looking horse and so I had to work very quickly to get the original Rosanante.

DS: I'm sure I would end up by fattening him up too.

AH: You couldn't help but do it.

DS: No, I certainly couldn't.

END OF INTERVIEW

 


This transcript is in the public domain and may be used without permission. Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Anna Hyatt-Huntington, circa 1964, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.