Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Palace of the Legion of Honor

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This is an aerial view of one of the most beautiful fine arts museums in San Francisco.  It sits atop the  cliffs in Lincoln Park near the sea and is surrounded by an amazingly gorgeous golf course.

  Over the years we have visited the museum on several occasions and absolutely love the European feel it has.  It was built in 1924 and dedicated to the soldiers from California that died in World War I. It is a replica of the Palace of the Legion of Honor in Paris.

The Courtyard

Antiqued effect on this photo of the underside of the arch,
 a miniature version of the L' Arc De Triomphe.
I did a term paper for my Art History class
 on Rodin's works 
housed in this museum in college 
and come to think of it, 
another on the Arc in my fourth year of French. 

The Thinker takes center stage in the court 
yard at the entrance of the museum.

Cast in Bronze 
Replica of the original Thinker

The Palace of the Legion of Honor houses samplings of European art spanning 4000 years including original paintings and sculptures, tapestries and other textiles, pottery and other artifacts and sketches and other drawings from the past.  Outside there is a monument erected 1984 to the Holocaust victims of WWII.

Thursday Jim and I went on our day trip and decided to stop over there and see what was happening.  Can I just insert here that this is one of the greatest joys of having time.  Going to places like this during the week is simply joyous.  The crowds are non-existent and the experience is heightened immeasurably because of it.  Of course there is that part of the collection that remains constant in the museum and there is usually a traveling exhibit as well.  We were delighted to discover that the traveling exhibit we happened upon was this one~

We both really enjoy this time period in history~

This is a collection from England featuring the art from the age of Aestheticism spanning the years 1860 through the end of the Victorian era in 1900, when Queen Victoria died, ushering in the Edwardian era.  There is very little in this art and literary movement that overlapped into impressionism spanning some of the same years in France.  Only one artist is known to have done both of these styles.

There was a prominent professor, Walter Patter, at Oxford during this era that published several papers on this movement in England and described it like this, " Life has to be lived intensely with an ideal of beauty."  I do like that a lot, don't you?  Another of the slogans of this era was "Art for art's sake".  This type of art focused on the aesthetics or beauty of an image.  It was not a preachy type of art focusing on socio-political conditions of the day or the obligatory need to teach a sense of morality.  

It was simply beautiful and contained a lot of symbolism in the form of such things as sunflowers, peacocks, butterflies and linear or columnar portrait-shaped paintings. Most of them beautiful women rather than landscape.  The portraits of these lovely ladies often had nature as a background, particularly flowers on vines.  Many of the artists in this movement put as much emphasis on the frames of their works and often made them themselves to go perfectly with each piece. 

This exhibit was 100% eye candy to someone who loves beauty and design.  I am a fan.  Some of the names you might recognize associated with the aestheticism era are Oscar Wilde, Whistler, the painter and Dante Gabrielle Rosetti.

The butterfly shaped symbol behind 
Carlyle is Whistler's iconic signature

This painting was particularly well done by Whistler and was of the Scottish philosopher, Thomas Carlyle.  The example of the tone on tone, monochromatic black, gray and white was really beautiful.  Many call this work Whistler's Father since it is so similar to the pose and composition of his most famous work, Whistler's Mother.  I did notice a lot of gray in the various painting in this exhibit coupled with one color, like lavender or burgundy to brighten them.  However, they were primarily just very colorful and beautiful like this one by Edward Burne-Jones done in 1873 called Laus Veneris.

I just love how the colors are done in this painting.  The prominent orange, flowing gown and the blue one, being opposites on the color wheel, just look so gorgeous together.  I like how the background blends nicely with the figures portrayed in the foreground. Of course these things are so much more magnificent when you are standing in front of the large original work, especially when not having to peek around heads to see them.

The Day Dream

 This painting done in 1880 by Dante Gabrielle Rossetti has become somewhat iconic of the movement.  This is the wife of John Morse, Jane, and Rossetti portrayed her as sensual and melancholy.  There is a lot written about this portrait that is quite interesting.  This art really was pushing the envelope in the Victorian era.

We thoroughly enjoyed this exhibit and want to return and see it again before it leaves San Francisco at the end of May.  We decided to purchase a year's membership which allows us unlimited access to this museum and the De Young, in Golden Gate Park and we can bring two adult guests with us or children under 17 for free.   Any takers?

If our grandson, Ross, was reading this, there would be a major eye roll here and a lot of groaning, but I do believe he will indeed be touring here during their visit in August.  His older brother, Spencer, actually enjoys art and has recently started painting so he will probably like the museum a lot. 

Spencer and his elephant...

It was a rainy, drizzly day in the City, brought on by the fact that we washed our cottage windows inside and out the day before!  Luckily although it was very wet in the City, our hometown was spared so the window are still great.  Rain or shine San Francisco is always fun.

We took these photos outside and then opted for dashboard dining for our picnic.  Not our favorite way to do it, but we opted to stay warm and dry. 

 This is overlooking the water to the west of the palace

The Golden Gate Bridge looking north

View of the City to the east of the Palace 
peeking through the large trees.

What a fun, spontaneous activity on a 
Thursday afternoon.
We hope you enjoyed coming along!!


Sister Susie said...

My! What a picture of the Fine Arts Museum! It looks like it is downhill! I really like the pictures of "The Thinker" and "The Day Dream." Spencer looks really happy with his elephant plaque. I'm so glad you had an enjoyable visit!
Love to you all, Susan

Marie said...

I love going on these trips with you Bonnie! I always feel as if I've really been there. You always make them so interesting! Love that pic of your grandson showing off his artwork as well. What a handsome lad! xxoo