Legion of Honor – Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
The Legion of Honor is a museum of fine art and decorative arts in San Francisco, California; its vast collection includes pieces dating from 2000 BC to the 20th century.
History and architecture
The museum was founded as “The California Palace of the Legion of Honor ” by philanthropists Adolph and Alma Spreckels to commemorate through arts Californian soldiers who died in World War I and opened to the public in 1924. In 1972, the Legion of Honor joined the de Young Museum to form the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
The Palace of the Legion of Honor was built on a beautiful site, overlooking the San Francisco Bay, after a design by American architect George Applegarth, who basically conceived the building as a slightly-undersized replica of the neoclassical Palais de la Légion d’Honneur in Paris (hence the name of the museum).
Up: Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, photo by John Loo; down: Palais de la Légion d’Honneur, Paris, photo courtesy of La grande chancellerie de la Légion d’honneur
Since its opening, in the museum’s courtyard, the visitors are welcomed by a full-size cast of The Thinker by Auguste Rodin; one of the 9 existing in the United States.
In 1995, after the Loma Prieta earthquake, the museum underwent a major renovation, enlargement, and anti-seismic structural upgrade.
Another view of the courtyard of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, photo by apasciuto
The permanent collection of the Legion of Honor mostly focuses on ancient and European art up to the 20th century, is divided into five sections.
It encompasses sculptures, vases, sarcophagi, jewels, carvings, and other antique works of art from Egypt, the Near East, Greece, Etruria, and Rome.
The collection comprises some 800 paintings, dating from the 14th to the 20th century, of French, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, and British art. It includes works by Fra Angelico, Rembrandt van Rijn, Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, Joshua Reynolds, El Greco, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgard Degas, Georges Braque, and Pablo Picasso, among others.
European Decorative Art & Sculpture
Along with several decorative art objects such as furniture, porcelains, tableware, and an entire French Neoclassical room (The Salon Doré), the collection includes sculptures by Benvenuto Cellini and Rodin.
Works on Paper
The collection, one of the most important in the United States in its genre, encompasses about 90,000 works on paper, including drawings, etchings, illustrated books, Japanese prints, and the complete graphic archive of the contemporary American artist Ed Ruscha. A part of the collection is also on view at the de Young Museum.
A selection from the large photographic collection of the museum, spanning the 19th and the 20th century with a particular focus on American and European artists, is displayed on rotation at the Legion of Honor and at the de Young Museum.
The building of the museum, accessible to wheelchair users, includes a restoration center, special exhibition galleries, educational spaces, a cafe, and a store.
Permanent exhibition galleries of the Legion of Honor; photos by Tiffany Silva, lilakb, and Ed Bierman
Cover image by Keith Cuddeback
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copyright Inexhibit 2019 - ISSN: 2283-5474