Dear Art Lovers, Historians and Friends of the Huntington Historical Society,
The Collections Committee of the Huntington Historical Society is thrilled to announce the acquisition of the Leopold Seyffert portrait of Mrs. Henry L. Stimson (Mabel) to our collection. This portrait joins the Seyffert portrait of Henry Lewis Stimson, who died in 1950, which has been in the collection since 1954 and had been on long term loan to the Town of Huntington for many years. Henry and Mabel, who had no children, owned an estate consisting of 60 acres in the West Hills section of Huntington known as “Highhold.” Mabel’s portrait was bought by the Society at auction in NYC with monies from the Collection’s Fund, which is partially supported by the Joel Cohen endowment.
High on any list of notable politicians and statesmen who never were elected President of the United States would be Henry Lewis Stimson. Stimson was born in New York City in 1867, graduated from Yale in 1888, after two years at Harvard Law School, was admitted to the New York Bar and joined a prestigious law firm.
In 1903, he and his wife, the former Mabel White, purchased a summer estate, known as Highhold, in the West Hills section of Huntington. In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt named him U. S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. In 1910, Mr. Stimson unsuccessfully ran for Governor of New York and in 1911 was named President Taft’s Secretary of War, a post he held until 1912. He served in World War I at the age of 49.
He returned from war and went into private practice until he was called back into government service by President Coolidge to serve as Governor General of the Philippines. In 1929, he became Secretary of State under President Hoover. After Hoover’s defeat in 1932, Stimson returned to private life. However, in 1939, at age 73, Roosevelt asked Stimson to return to government once again to serve as his Secretary of War, a position he held until the end of World War II. He also served Presidents Roosevelt and Truman as the senior advisor on the military employment of atomic energy. It was his recommendation that lead to President Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bomb.
In 1950, Henry L. Stimson died at his summer home in Huntington. He and Mrs. Stimson had long been members of the Huntington community, hosting a day of sports at their estate each fall for a number of years in the early 20th century. Famed portrait artist Leopold Gould Seyffert painted the portraits of Mr. & Mrs. Stimson in 1915 and 1917 and they hung at Highhold.
The purchase of Mrs. Stimson’s portrait, which reunites the pair of portraits back in Huntington after over 60 years of separation, has significantly diminished the available monies in the Society’s Collection Fund for future purchases. Donations, ranging from $100 to $750, have already been made to partially cover the $4,375 cost of the painting. We respectfully ask for you to join those donors in replenishing the Collections Fund.
Leopold Gould Seyffert was a famous American portraitist of the early 20th century who painted many members of the upper class and whose paintings hang in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, the New York Historical Society in NYC and many of the other notable museums in the country. The Society feels fortunate to now own two of his works. The two portraits will hang together again in the Watson Scholars Room in the newly restored and expanded Trade School Building.
Contributions to the Collections Fund, that will be listed as contributors to the purchase of the portrait of Mabel White Stimson can be made by writing a check to the Huntington Historical Society, Collections Fund. The continuing efforts by the Collections Committee to enhance the collection and preserve Huntington related artifacts are dependent on individuals and members of the Society supporting such efforts.
Thank you in advance for your contribution,
Huntington Historical Society – Collections Committee
Chairperson Robin Horn