SAN MARINO, CA.- The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens announced today the appointment of Catherine Hess to the position of curator of European art. Hess has been associate curator of sculpture and decorative arts at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, since 1984, where her most recent accomplishment has been the organization of the acclaimed international exhibition Bernini and the Birth of Baroque Portrait Sculpture. At The Huntington she will be responsible for the gallery of European art and for the development of a growing collection of some 30,000 works of European painting, sculpture, decorative art, prints, and drawings from the 15th to the early 20th century, as well as for overseeing the work of the departmental staff, including scholarly and public programs relating to the collection.
We conducted an exhaustive search in order to find someone with the credentials, energy, and natural talent to fill this role, said John Murdoch, Hannah and Russel Kully Director of The Huntington Art Collections. With Catherine Hess, I believe we have struck gold.
The Huntingtons European art collection, long revered for its depth and quality in the areas of 18th-century British painting and French decorative art, recently has been brought to new light with the renovation and reconfiguration of the Huntington Art Gallery, the former residence of Henry and Arabella Huntington. Completed in May, the $20 million project involved the unification of the entire European art collection under one roof for the first time. This has brought certain areas of the collection to greater attention, especially the Arabella D. Huntington Memorial Art Collection, which contains important Italian and Northern Renaissance paintings and sculpture as well as 18th-century French decorative art, a primary subject of a major catalog published in February.
I couldnt be more thrilled to work at an institution with such remarkable collections and such a committed staff, said Hess. I look forward to exploring areas of the Huntington Art Gallery that havent yet had their praises sung and to developing projects that will both challenge and delight the visiting public. At this point in my career, I am eager for new challenges, and this one is absolutely ideal.
Hess comes to The Huntington with a long list of contributions to the field. She has specialized in European sculpture and decorative arts from 1400 to 1900, but also has published on paintings and drawings. She has organized special exhibitions at the Getty, including The Arts of Fire: Islamic Influences on Glass and Ceramics of the Italian Renaissance (2004) and A Renaissance Cabinet Rediscovered (200507). Her current project, the first major exhibition in North America of works by Italian sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini (15981680), has been met with widespread critical praise. Hess most recent publications include Bernini and the Birth of Baroque Sculpture, Getty Museum, 2008; A History of Italian Furniture, Getty Museum, forthcoming; Looking at Glass: a Guide to Technical Terms, published jointly by the Getty Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and the Corning Museum of Glass, 2005; and Maiolica in the Making, Getty Research Institute, 1999.
Hess succeeds Shelley Bennett as curator of European art; Bennett currently serves as a senior research associate at The Huntington.