Loretta Hines Howard (1904-1982) was an artist who studied with Robert Henri from 1925 to 1929. Specializing in portraiture and landscape painting, she exhibited her work in the 1930s at esteemed venues such as the Society of Independent Arts, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Whitney Biennial, among others. Though a painter by trade, she is best known for her collection of over two hundred eighteenth-century Neapolitan créche statuettes, which starting in 1957, she loaned annually to The Metropolitan Museum of Art at the holidays to trim the museum's Angel Tree. In addition to lending her ornaments, Mrs. Howard would personally oversee the decoration of the tree and nativity scenes. Her unique and elaborate nativity scenes garnered her such fame that she was asked to prepare arrangements for the White House during John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Jimmy Carter's presidencies. In 1965, she donated many of the figurines in her collection to The Metropolitan Museum of Art where they continue to adorn the Angel Tree.
We wish to thank Valerie Ann Leeds for her assistance with cataloguing this lot.