San Marino

The Huntington’s Beloved ‘Blue Boy’ to Return in March

The famous Gainsborough painting's multi-month restoration has wrapped; see it again on March 26.

The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens

What to Know

  • The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens
  • The masterpiece returns to the Huntington Art Gallery on March 26, 2020
  • With paid admission

So you're calling upon The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens with your blossom-loving, history-obsessed buddies?

You may have that one friend who absolutely has to swan among the roses, while another pal is all about visiting the Japanese Garden's bonsai trees as well as the august hall that brims with priceless antique books and documents.

But you can all agree on one thing you must see, a painting that is synonymous with The Huntington itself: "The Blue Boy" by Thomas Gainsborough, a longtime fixture of the Huntington Art Gallery.

In a vast property that boasts a vast collection of world-renowned artworks, "The Blue Boy" stands tall, along with "Pinkie," the powerful and ethereal Thomas Lawrence painting that "The Blue Boy" has long been displayed alongside.

If you've called upon The Huntington in recent months, though, you may found that painting wasn't around, due to a huge restoration project.

The restoration is finally coming to a close, and the legendary painting will again be on display at the San Marino landmark beginning on March 26, 2020.

Project Blue Boy was a massive undertaking, one that received funds from Bank of America Art Conservation Project, as well as the Friends of Heritage Preservation, Getty Foundation, and Haag-Streit USA.

Some 500-plus hours of "... expert analysis, conservation, and restoration" were involved in bringing the lustrous oil painting back to its robust and regal luminance, hours that were spread out over 18 months.

"The Blue Boy" was off-view for several of those months, making those longtime mavens of the masterpiece, well, blue. It hasn't been seen by visitors since Oct. 1, 2019, making its late-March return even more anticipated.

Eager to know more about how a team of pros carefully, painstakingly, and passionately restored and revived a painting that's been loved through the ages and is known far beyond The Huntington's leafy borders?

There are a number of videos and posts detailing Project Blue Boy and the science, creativity, and heart that goes into such an enormous undertaking.

Pictured: Christina O’Connell, Mary Ann and John Sturgeon Senior Paintings Conservator, uses tiny brushes to reconnect Gainsborough’s brushstrokes across the voids of past damages. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

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