Blog Category: Legion of Honor

Slow Art Day at the de Young and Legion of Honor

On Saturday, April 12, the de Young, the Legion of Honor, and dozens of other museums and galleries around the world will participate in Slow Art Day. Like the National Day of Unplugging, which encourages people to power down their smartphones and socialize face-to-face, Slow Art Day’s mission is to enable new connections with art that otherwise might be lost in the everyday blur of activity.

The Art Editor's Library

Before I joined the Fine Arts Museums seven years ago as an editor, I did not know such a job existed in the museum world. It is not a role that merits much attention—in fact, the more invisible the editor’s hand, the better. But if you look around at the museums, you will understand how important an editor is. From humble signage directing your way to hefty exhibition catalogues, a huge range of text in a variety of forms is issued by the Museums, all reviewed by a team of three editors in the publications department.

A shelf filled with books

A Conservation Triumph: 1994–2013

For the first time ever, three prized tapestries from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s permanent collection will be exhibited together in the Legion of Honor’s Gallery 1. The entire series, known as The Triumph of the Seven Virtues, consists of seven tapestries that depict allegorical representations of the theological virtues—Faith, Hope, and Charity—and the cardinal virtues—Temperance, Prudence, Justice, and Fortitude. While 10 museums in Europe, the United States, and Russia possess tapestries from this series, the Fine Arts Museums have The Triumph of Fortitude, The Triumph of Prudence, and the only extant example of The Triumph of Justice.

The monumental tapestry (and the only one of its kind) The Triumph of Justice

Triumph of Justice from The Triumph of the Seven Virtues Series, ca. 1535. Belgium, Brussels, Flemish. Wool, silk; tapestry weave. Gift of The William Randolph Hearst Foundation. 1957.125

3D Printing a Custom Support for an 18th-century French Clock

3D scanning and printing have made their mark on popular culture in the past couple of years with eye-catching headlines like “Researchers Closing in on Printing 3D Hearts” and “Tools of Modern Gunmaking.” Many museums have also started using 3D printing to foster greater engagement and creativity between their visitors and collections. As a cultural institution, one of the main challenges when experimenting with new technologies is to understand and evaluate how it can be used to benefit or bolster our collection and mission, and try to get beyond the initial “whoa—that’s cool!” factor.

The MakerBot

Cracking the Conservation of a Curious Contemporary Construction

In 2004 artist Matthew Picton laid a sheet of plastic over the cracks in the asphalt of a playground. He traced the cracks and painted them with black enamel paint. Then he carefully cut and burned away the plastic surrounding the cracks. What was left was a giant spidery web.

Museums and Art Fairs: The Inside Story

Spring in San Francisco brings with it a season of art fairs, including artMRKT whose opening night preview reception this Thursday, May 16 benefits the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s newly created New Acquisitions Fund. Featuring 70 galleries from around the globe, artMRKT provides a unique opportunity for museum professionals and art enthusiasts to gather, discuss, and view the world’s premier contemporary and modern art. This year, artMRKT includes a series of special lectures presented by several of our own curators, including Emma Acker, assistant curator of American art. We sat down with Ms. Acker to discuss the relationship between art fairs and museums, such as the de Young and the Legion of Honor.

Assistant curator of American art, Emma Acker

Emma Acker, assistant curator of American art

A Trompe-l'oeil Traveler

One of the most exciting aspects of working in paper conservation at the Legion of Honor is the variety of objects encountered on a daily basis. When working on a 17th-century print, for example, conservation intern Laura Neufeld faced many traditional paper conservation challenges. Pier Gustafson’s Father’s Suitcase, on the other hand, is a one-of-a kind artwork that required unique treatment solutions.

Behind the Scenes: De-installing the Salon Doré

Almost as soon as the Salon Doré was de-installed from Gallery 11 late last year, the comprehensive conservation and restoration project began (and continues today in full view of the public in Gallery 13). Before a single component of the room was removed, however, months of planning and research went into readying the Salon Doré for this massive undertaking.

A Devil in the Details

The special exhibition Rembrandt’s Century, currently on view alongside Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis, is striking both in its breadth and for the fact that the works on view all come from the Fine Arts Museums’ permanent collections. Preparations for this exhibition were lengthy, with some works requiring restoration treatments.

Researching the Renovation of a Period Room

As the digital media interpretive media fellow at the de Young and the Legion of Honor, my primary role is to digitally document and interpret the yearlong project The Salon Doré: The Conservation of a Period Room, currently underway at the Legion of Honor.

carving

Framing Rembrandt's Century

Consisting of approximately 250 artworks, Rembrandt’s Century presents a diverse picture of the art and personalities that defined the Dutch Golden Age. Drawn entirely from the Museums’ permanent collection of works on paper in the renowned Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, this exhibition required months of preparation. Curators, conservators, and art technicians worked together to frame—both literally and figuratively—this important selection of masterworks.

Framing Rembrandt's Century

The Gifts that Keep on Giving

Like or not, the holiday gift-giving season is upon us, the time of year we begin making a list and checking it twice. It’s a good thing that Christmas and Hanukkah only come around once a year, what with all the stress gift selection causes. In 17th- and 18th-century France, however, the fine art of gift giving was a yearlong endeavor.

Let Them Eat Turkey

Thanksgiving is the time when you get to use all the best stuff in your kitchen: the gravy boat, the fancy napkins, and, of course, the turkey deep fryer. Louis XIV and the other French monarchs who succeeded him obviously didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but they did bring out the good stuff when setting the table. Some of the objects in Royal Treasures from the Louvre: Louis XIV to Marie-Antoinette, open through March 31, 2013 at the Legion of Honor, are examples of these items; they’re just like the things you set your table with, but with a “royal” twist.

You’ve probably moved past the first dining room set that you bought off Craigslist, but no matter how nice your table is, you likely didn’t have it custom-made to feature your royal markings. Louis XIV’s mosaic tabletop is made of semi-precious stones and features, among other things, some of his official emblems, like the lyre of Apollo and fleurs-de-lis. It was made by the Gobelins manufactory, a workshop responsible for many of the objects used to decorate Versailles and the other royal residences.

Louis XIV tabletop

Mosaic tabletop with emblems of Louis XIV, last quarter of the 17th century.
Gobelins Manufactory (France, established 1662)
Marble and pietre dure (hardstones)
©RMN-Grand Palais/Art Resource, NY

Mummy by the Bay: Irethorrou, an Egyptian Priest of the Early Persian Period

This Halloween, we take you inside one of the Museums’ most enigmatic inhabitants: the mummy Irethorrou. While mummies have long been the antagonists of numerous horror films, they also provide us with incredible insight into the funerary practices and religious beliefs of ancient Egyptians. We dare you to read on as curator Dr. Renée Dreyfus and Egyptologist Jonathan P. Elias unwrap the Museums’ mummy.

Mummy of Irethorrou in Coffin

Mummy of Irethorrou in Coffin, ca. 500 BC. Egypt, Akhmim, Middle Egypt. Human remains, linen, wood with polychrome. Gift of the First Federal Trust Company (from the Estate of Jeremiah Lynch). 42895

A Half-Century of Excellence

When Kathan Brown first opened Crown Point Press (CPP) in 1962, lithography and screenprinting were the prevailing fine art printmaking workshop processes. With the establishment of CPP, Brown provided artists with alternatives to these methods, affirming her commitment to intaglio—any process in which incisions in a plate’s surface hold the ink that will create the image. These new printmaking possibilities evolved into increasingly diverse offerings that afforded artists new outlets for their creativity, the fruits of which are currently on display in Crown Point Press at 50 (through February 17, 2013) at the de Young.

Kiki Smith

Kiki Smith (American, b. 1954). Still, 2006. Color spit-bite aquatint with flat-bite and soft-ground and hard-ground etching printed on gampi paper chine collé. Crown Point Press Archive, gift of Crown Point Press. 2010.39.17.2

FAMSF Portraits Featured in Set for San Francisco Opera

Recently, our photo services and imaging department responded to a rather unusual request from San Francisco Opera set designer Naomie Kremer. Kremer, who was designing a video set for an operatic adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic The Secret Garden (premiering on March 1, 2013) asked if she could incorporate portraits from the Museums’ permanent collection into her design. As today’s guest blogger, Kremer takes us on an incredible journey into The Secret Garden, giving us a sneak peek into the fantastical world she created.

Kremer Image

Image by Naomie Kremer

The Secret Garden is a well-loved children’s story familiar to many generations. I’ve discovered that for many people, it is an iconic story that strikes a deep chord and seems to stay in their subconscious long after its last reading.

From Muse to Master

Throughout art history, the muse has played a central role in the artist’s process. The modern art muse has found its most frequent embodiment in women, from Victorine Muerent to Camille Claudel to Kiki de Montparnasse to Marie-Therese Walter (and the numerous other women portrayed by Picasso). Female muses have been both model and artistic catalyst to their typically more famous male collaborators, even though their own creative production is often considered of equal value. Lee Miller, one of the subjects of the special exhibition Man Ray | Lee Miller: Partners in Surrealism (on view at the Legion of Honor through October 14), has long been pigeonholed as Man Ray’s muse. But, as this exhibition reveals, Miller’s relationship with Man Ray was only the beginning of her journey from muse to master.

Floating

Man Ray (American, 1890–1976). Portrait of Lee Miller–Flying Head, c. 1930. Vintage gelatin silver print. Lee Miller Archives, England © 2012 Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY / ADAGP, Paris

#MuseumOlympics Torch on Fire: A Story of Collaboration and Social Innovation

For the past two weeks, the world watched athletes from the world over compete and triumph in the 2012 Olympic Games. Meanwhile, museums the world over competed on Twitter in the tongue-in cheek competition #MuseumOlympics, which originated right here in San Francisco. Willa Köerner, digital engagement associate at SFMOMA and today's g uest blogger, takes us behind the scenes of #MuseumOlympics and reveals the origins of what will surely become a new quadrennial tradition.

Taber Olympics

Isaiah West Taber (American, 1830–1912). Olympic Club Day, 1894. Gelatin silver print. California Midwinter International Exposition, through M.H. deYoung. 2502

Life with René

In 2010 longtime trustee Denise Fitch gave the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco an extensive collection of drawings by her first husband, artist René Bouché (1905–1963). Bouché—who contributed illustrations to esteemed publications such as Vogue and Time Magazine—is the subject of the special exhibition René Bouché: Letters from Post-War Paris at the Legion of Honor. Friends with both Man Ray and Lee Miller, Mrs. Fitch and René Bouché led rich lives that sparkled with art, culture, humor, and glamour.

Bicycle

René Robert Bouché (French, 1905–1963). 139. La Parisienne 1945 from The Morning After: Paris, 1945. Pen, ink, and color wash on paper. Gift of Denise B. Fitch in memory of my late husband, René Robert Bouché (1905–1963). 2010.61.2.13.

My Olympic Memories

Here at the de Young, we know Gregory Stock as “Mr. Friday Nights,” but he used to be an elite collegiate swimmer. As we enter the final week of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Gregory shares with us some of his favorite Olympic memories.

As a young competitive swimmer, my adolescence consisted of waking up early for practice before school, spending hours training in the pool, perfecting my technique, and focusing on the ultimate goal of touching the wall first.

Weird Sports: Olympic Oddities from the Ancient World

The Olympic canoe sprint, an event that starts on August 6, looks pretty weird when you think about it: human beings wrapped in brightly colored fabrics, sitting in little plastic shells, racing on a simulated river. It would have looked even weirder to the ancient Greeks. The first Olympic event was actually pretty simple, the stadion: a foot race of exactly one stade, which was a length of about 180 meters. It was run naked, it was over in less than a minute, and nobody capsized. The ancient Olympics did include some pretty weird sports however, and Gifts From the Gods: Art and the Olympic Ideal, currently on view at the Legion of Honor, exhibits several ancient coins depicting some of the oddest ones. 

coin with man and torch

Jockey galloping right, holding torch (obverse), silver didrachm, ca. 280-272 BC, Tarentum, Calabria. Anonymous Loan

The Art of the Photo Finish

As millions watch the Summer Olympics opening ceremony this Friday, July 27, the best athletes in the world will officially open the Games of the XXX Olympiad. The next day, Saturday, July 28, Gifts from the Gods: Art and the Olympic Ideal opens at the Legion of Honor. Like the opening ceremony, and the Games themselves, this exhibition celebrates athletic

Marcel Duchamp’s World in a Box: Fixing a Famous Valise

Museum visitors currently have the opportunity to look inside a rare treasure normally kept locked in dark storage. Marcel Duchamp: The Book and the Box, currently on view in the Logan Gallery at the Legion of Honor, features Duchamp’s iconic artwork, Boîte en Valise, which was made in the late 1930s.

Victoria and the box

Man Ray and Lee Miller: Excerpts from a Conversation with Julian Cox

The special exhibition Man Ray | Lee Miller: Partners in Surrealism opens tomorrow at the Legion of Honor. Earlier this summer, Julian Cox sat down with the San Francisco Arts Quarterly’s John Held, Jr. to discuss the photography of Man Ray and Lee Miller, their mutual invention and artistic discovery, and the stormy, but inspired, relationship that ultimately lasted a lifetime. Read the complete interview in issue 10 of the SFAQ print edition on August 3.

Man Ray, Lee Miller, and a gun

Attributed to Man Ray (1890–1976) Fairground, c. 1930. Vintage postcard print. The Roland Penrose Collection, England

Extravagance and Luxury: Victorian San Francisco

This is the last week to see The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde 1860–1900which closes on Sunday, June 17, at the Legion of Honor. San Francisco has been the perfect host city in which to display this groundbreaking exhibition due in no small part to the city’s rich Victorian past. At a recent panel discussion,  "Extravagance and Industry,"  hosted by

Happy birthday, Julia Margaret Cameron!

Since its invention in the mid 19th century, photography has been at the forefront of progressive art making traditions—so its presence in The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900 is no surprise. By the 1890s, photography was a half-century old and its supporters vociferously claimed it to be an independent art form, advocating for the idea of "art photography." Today we celebrate the birthday of Julia Margaret Cameron, one of the greatest photographers from this period and whose work is currently on display in The Cult of Beauty at the Legion of Honor (closing this Sunday, June 17).

Portrait of a Woman

Julia Margaret Cameron (English, 1815–1879). Portrait of a Woman (Louise Beatrice de Fonblanque), 1868. Albumen silver print from wet-collodion-on-glass negative mounted to a heavier sheet. Museum purchase, Mrs. Milton S. Latham Fund. 1992.138

Corsets in Context: A History

The corset looms large in special exhibitions at both the de Young and the Legion of Honor. Jean Paul Gaultier, the subject of the de Young's  The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk , integrated this iconic garment into his prêt-à-porter collections as early as 1983. Meanwhile, over at the Legion of Honor in The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860 –1900 (on view through June 17) the artists of the Aesthetic Movement rejected the corset in defiance of Victorian era fashions and social mores. Tonight, Friday Nights at the de Young explores the surprisingly dynamic world of Haute Corsets , with local corset makers Dark Garden and a screening of Truth or Dare , in which Madonna gets into the groove wearing Gaultier's unforgettable cone bra corset. Before you lace up, bone up on the fascinating history of this beguiling bodice!

Mashup

Left: Emil Larsson, Body corset worn by Madonna, Blond Ambition World Tour, 1990. Dazed & Confused, April 2008 © Emil Larsson; Right: Edward Burne-Jones (English, 1833–1898). Pomona, 1886–1920. Wool, silk, cotton; tapestry weave. Museum purchase, Dorothy Spreckels Munn Bequest Fund. 2001.120.2

The Wonderful World of Victorian Children's Books

In the special exhibition Making the Modern Picture Book: Children’s Books from the Victorian Era (on view at the Legion of Honor through June 17), the intimate art of 19th-century story telling is revealed. England at this time was undergoing a formative period in the design, production, and marketing of children’s books, which were often gifted as rewards or prizes, and reinforced socially acceptable behavior in the guise of entertainment. Maintaining the principles of the Aesthetic Movement, publishers and renowned illustrators achieved a compelling fusion of art and literature.

L is for Lady

William Nicholson (British, 1872–1949). An Alphabet: L is for Lady, 1898. Color lithograph. Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts. 1963.30.1351.13

Mark Garrett Will Work for Art!

Will Work for Art introduces you to the people who make the Fine Arts Museums work. Today, we visit the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts where we meet Mark Garrett, a senior museum technician. Originally from Tennessee, Mark has been with the Museums for 23 years!

Mark Garrett

Designing Arthur Tress: San Francisco 1964

This weekend marks your last chance to experience the special exhibition Arthur Tress: San Francisco 1964 , on view at the de Young until June 3. As book designer and guest blogger Martin Venezky aptly notes, the catalogue represents a lasting impression of an otherwise temporary exhibition. Today, Venezky shares with us the process behind the creation of this unique publication.

The catalogue for the special exhibition Arthur Tress: San Francisco 1964 provides a nice case study into the inner workings of a book design. The book itself is deceptively simple. It contains reproductions of sixty-eight photographs from the exhibition, an essay, an interview, locations and credits, a foreword, and a set of additional images—some historical, some personal, and some working contact sheets. But beneath the seemingly placid surface there were hundreds of options to consider and decisions to make.

Cover

FRAME|WORK: The Gold Scab: Eruption in Frilthy Lucre (The Creditor) by James McNeill Whistler

Although the special exhibition The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde 1860–1900 (on view at the Legion of Honor through June 17) primarily features art by English artists, the impact of American expatriate James McNeill Whistler cannot be ignored. Whistler is best known for his subdued but complicated portraits—such as the world-famous Arrangement in Gray and Black No. 1 or “Whistler’s Mother”—but today’s FRAME|WORK highlights a rather unusual painting by this American in England. The Gold Scab: Eruption in Frilthy Lucre (The Creditor) is in the permanent collection of the de Young but is currently on view as a part of The Cult of Beauty

Frilthy Lucre

James Abbott McNeill Whistler (American, 1834–1903). The Gold Scab: Eruption in Frilthy Lucre (The Creditor), 1879. Oil on canvas. Gift of Mrs. Alma de Bretteville Spreckels through the Patrons of Art and Music. 1977.11

Behind the Scenes at the Opening Night of artMRKT

For the past week, Max Fishko and company have been tirelessly converting the Concourse Exhibition Center from a cavernous abandoned train depot into artMRKT, San Francisco’s premier contemporary art venue. Tonight’s exclusive preview benefits the de Young and the Legion of Honor, so we thought we’d take you inside for a behind-the-scenes look at this remarkable transformation.

FRAME|WORK: The Salon Doré at the Legion of Honor

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series highlighting an artwork in the Museums’ permanent collection. This week, we feature an unusual treasure in the Legion of Honor—it is unusual because it’s not a painting or a sculpture, but rather an entire room. The Salon Doré, an 18th-century French period room, is currently on view.

Carrie Cottini Will Work for Art!

We are happy to announce the return of Will Work for Art, a series of interviews featuring the incredibly diverse group of people who work here at the Fine Arts Museums! This week, we introduce you to Carrie Cottini, the acting member council administrator. Originally from Sacramento, Carrie has been with the Museums for four years as of this week. Happy anniversary, Carrie!

Carrie Cottini

A Conversation with Max Fishko

Next week the city of San Francisco will be flooded with art dealers and collectors, all clamoring to see the newest and brightest at the second annual artMRKT contemporary and modern art fair. The event’s opening festivities kick off this Thursday, May 17 and feature a preview reception benefiting the de Young and the Legion of Honor museums.

We recently sat down with artMRKT co-founder Max Fishko, a third-generation gallerist from New York City, to get his take on the contemporary art scene at large and in San Francisco.

Max Fishko

Max Fishko, co-founder of artMRKT

Music, Muses and Divas in the Art of the Victorian Avant-Garde

Tomorrow, May 12, 2012, the Legion of Honor presents Music, Muses and Divas , public programs associated with The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900 (on view through June 17). Premier scholars of Victorian art Tim Barringer and Peter Trippi lecture on the complmentary topics of music and theater in the context of the Aesthetic Movement. We asked our lecturers a few questions about their respective talks to provide insight into the day’s presentations.

Saint Cecilia

John William Waterhouse, Saint Cecilia, 1895, oil on canvas. Private Collection

Mystery Glass Negatives from Land's End

Before there were digital image files and even before there was film, photographers captured images on glass plate negatives. In the collection of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco there are over seventy of these glass plate negatives depicting scenes of Land’s End and old San Francisco. Discovered in the basement of the old de Young, these century-old negatives were in desperate need of cleaning and re-housing. When the negatives came into the paper conservation lab at the Legion of Honor for proper care, the labor intensive project proved a perfect opportunity for pre-program conservation student Jennifer Martinez.

Foundation of Cliff House

Foundation of Cliff House, c. 1895

FRAME|WORK: The Grand Canal, Venice by Claude Monet

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series highlighting an artwork in the Museums’ permanent collection. This week we take a closer look at Claude Monet’s impressionist depictiion of the Grand Canal in Venice, from 1908.

The Grand Canal, Venice

Inside the Pavonia Room

Two weeks ago we introduced you to Geoffrey De Sousa’s concept for the Pavonia Room. Inspired by the special exhibition The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde 1860–1900 (on view at the Legion of Honor through June 17), De Sousa’s gentleman’s study will be installed at the San Francisco Decorator Showcase opening this Saturday, April 28. Today, De Sousa serves as a guest-blogger to unveil the completed space.

De Sousa in the Pavonia Room

Geoffrey De Sousa, the gentleman in his study

Love and the Maiden: A Harmony of Hues

In this installment of our continuing blog series examining key elements of the Aesthetic Movement through the lens of John Stanhope’s masterwork Love and the Maiden (typically on view in gallery 18 at the Legion of Honor and currently on view in The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900), curatorial assistant of European art Melissa Buron takes a closer look at color.

Love and the Maiden

John Roddam Spencer Stanhope (English, 1829–1908). Love and the Maiden, 1877. Tempera, gold paint and gold leaf on canvas. Museum purchase, European Art Trust Fund, Grover A. Magnin Bequest Fund and Dorothy Spreckels Munn Bequest Fund. 2002.176

FRAME|WORK: Untitled (Portals of the Past) by Arnold Genthe

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums permanent collections. Today we commemorate the 1906 earthquake and ensuing fire that ravaged the majority of San Francisco. Arnold Genthe’s Untitled (Portals of the Past), a jewel of the Museums’ photography collection, provides a look back at that dark day. This photograph is currently not on display, so please enjoy this exclusive virtual viewing.

Portals of the Past

Arnold Genthe (American, b. Prussia, 1869–1942). Untitled (Portals of the Past), 1906 (printed 1956). Gelatin silver print. Museum purchase, James D. Phelan Bequest Fund. 1943.407.130.2

The Pavonia Room and the Art of Design

Since 1977, the San Francisco Decorator Showcase has taken over some of the city’s most prestigious addresses and redesigned them to benefit the San Francisco University High School’s financial aid program. Celebrating its 35th anniversary, this year’s Decorator Showcase sets up residence at 2020 Jackson Street from April 28–May 28, 2012.

2020 Jackson

2020 Jackson Street, site of the 2012 San Francisco Decorator Showcase

FRAME|WORK: The Garden Bench by James Tissot

During the second half of the 19th century, the face of European art history was altered by artists on both sides of the English Channel. This week’s FRAME|WORK features Le Banc de Jardin (The Garden Bench ), a print by French artist James Tissot, who was as at home with the Victorian avant-garde in London as he was with the Impressionists in Paris. This print is currently on display in Gallery 18 at the Legion of Honor and Tissot’s painting also appears in the special exhibition The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900.

The Garden Bench

James Tissot (French, 1836–1902) Le Banc de Jardin (The Garden Bench), 1883. Mezzotint. Gift of Edward Tyler Nahem. 2003.151.68

FRAME|WORK: A Chasuble from 18th-century France

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature two exquisite 18th-century French liturgical vestments, a chasuble and a dalmatic, from the Museums’ permanent collections. Unfortunately, these garments are not currently on view, but please enjoy this exclusive virtual viewing!

Chasuble

Chasuble and Dalmatic, ca. 1700–1710. France, probably Paris. Silk, metallic thread; cut velvet, embroidery (laid work, couching, padded couching). Museum purchase, Dorothy Spreckels Munn Bequest Fund. 2004.9.1.1–2

FRAME|WORK: A Panel with a Vase of Flowers Attributed to Matteo Nigetti

FRAME | WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature a finely crafted work of European decorative art from 17th-century Florence, currently on display in Gallery 5 at the Legion of Honor.

Love and the Maiden: A Tale in Tempera

Last month we featured John Roddam Stanhope’s Love and the Maiden in FRAME|WORK, which served as the first in a series of blog posts that will demonstrate key elements of the Aesthetic Movement through this singular painting. In this installment, curatorial assistant of European art Melissa Buron examines how Stanhope's use of tempera paint contributed to the aesthetic of the Victorian avant-garde.

2002.176

John Roddam Spencer Stanhope (English, 1829–1908). Love and the Maiden, 1877. Tempera, gold paint and gold leaf on canvas. Museum purchase, European Art Trust Fund, Grover A. Magnin Bequest Fund and Dorothy Spreckels Munn Bequest Fund. 2002.176

FRAME|WORK: At Sea, Japan by Jennifer Bartlett

Last weekend marked the one-year anniversary of Japan’s tragic earthquake and tsunami. Today marks the birthday of Jennifer Bartlett, whose opus, At Sea, Japan, was inspired by Japanese artistic traditions and is highlighted in this week’s FRAME | WORK . This work is currently not on view, so we hope you enjoy At Sea, Japan as we reflect on Japan’s recovery and resilience.

A Conversation About Corsets

If there is one article of clothing associated with the Victorian Era, it is the corset. This Sunday, March 11, we continue our exclusive series of public programs for The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900 with Visions of Beauty—Inside the Victorian Artists Salon, presented in partnership with Dark Garden Corsetry and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood Artist Salon. We recently sat down with Autumn Adamme, the owner of Dark Garden and your guide to all things corseted, to discuss this controversial fashion icon.

Dark Garden black dress

Photo courtesy of Dark Garden

FRAME|WORK: A Relief of a Gift Bearer from Ancient Persia

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature an exquisite bas-relief of a gift bearer from ancient Persia, currently on view in the Hall of Antiquities at the Legion of Honor.

2008.1

Relief of a Gift Bearer, Persian, Achaemenid Empire, Persepolis, Palace of Darius or Xerxes, ca. 490–470 B.C. Limestone. Museum purchase, gift of Lisa Sardegna, Albert P. Wagner Bequest Fund, William A. Stimson, Friends of Ian White Endowment Income Fund, Unrestricted Art Acquisition Endowment Fund, Volunteer Council Art Acquisition Fund, Ancient Art Trust Fund and Auction Proceeds, Mrs. John N. Rosekrans, Jr., Sande Schlumberger, Endowment Fund in Honor of Francesca and Thomas Carr Howe, Walter H. and Phyllis J. Shorenstein Foundation Fund, Tish and James Brown and various Tribute Funds. 2008.1

FRAME|WORK: Flora and Pomona by Edward Burne-Jones

The integration of art and beauty into every aspect of life was one of the foremost tenets of the Aesthetic Movement. Artists who subscribed to this ideal stepped outside of the confines of their medium of choice and experimented with all variety of design: painters became furniture designers and architects designed textiles. This week’s FRAME|WORK features two luscious tapestries from the Museums’ permanent collections included in the special exhibition The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900 (on view at the Legion of Honor through June 17). Created by Edward Burne-Jones for Morris & Co., Flora and Pomona exemplify the aesthetics of the Aesthetic Movement.

Flora and Pomona

Edward Burne-Jones (English, 1833–1898) for Morris & Co. Flora (left) and Pomona (right), 1886–1920. Wool, silk, cotton; tapestry weave. Museum purchase, Dorothy Spreckels Munn Bequest Fund. 2001.120.1–2.

FRAME|WORK: Love and the Maiden by John Roddam Spencer Stanhope

This week’s FRAME|WORK, featuring John Roddam Spencer Stanhope’s luscious Love and the Maiden, will serve as the first in a series of posts examining a variety of themes present throughout the special exhibition The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900 (opening this Saturday, February 18). Stanhope’s allegorical painting will provide the backdrop for the discussion of topics ranging from artistic technique to the Aesthetic Movement’s color palette to the role of frames in the perception of an artwork.

Love and the Maiden

John Roddam Spencer Stanhope (English, 1829–1908). Love and the Maiden, 1877. Tempera, gold paint and gold leaf on canvas. Museum purchase, European Art Trust Fund, Grover A. Magnin Bequest Fund and Dorothy Spreckels Munn Bequest Fund. 2002.176

Exhibition Beautiful: The Art of Wallpaper

William Morris, champion of the Aesthetic Movement, said of interior design, “Whatever you have in your rooms, think first of the walls.” Wallpaper was a defining decorative motif in the homes of the Victorian avant-garde and bourgeoisie alike. In keeping with this fashion, the special exhibition The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900

Art for Art's Sake at Design San Francisco

On February 18, The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900 opens at the Legion of Honor. This Wednesday, February 1 at 2:30 p.m., the San Francisco Design Center presents The Aesthetic Movement and Interior Design, a panel exploring the movement’s enduring influence on interiors. The discussion will feature exhibition curator Dr. Lynn Federle Orr, design writer and editor Zahid Sardar, interior designer Geoffrey De Sousa and 3D Magazine editor-in-chief, Alisa Carroll.

In advance of this event, Ms. Carroll is today’s guest blogger.

Sideboard, 1865–75

Edward William Godwin, Sideboard, 1865–75, ebonized mahogany with silver plated handles © V&A Images

FRAME|WORK: Eléphantaisie by Pierre Dubreuil

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week we feature a classic photograph by Pierre Dubreuil. If you missed Eléphantaisie when it was on view in Impressionist Paris: City of Light, you will no doubt enjoy this virtual viewing.

Eléphantaisie

Pierre Dubreuil (French, 1872–1944). Eléphantaisie, 1908. Gelatin silver print. Museum purchase, Prints and Drawings Art Trust Fund. 2009.29

Bird Bath: The Conservation of a William Morris Textile

The British Aesthetic Movement, which is the subject of the upcoming exhibition The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde 1860–1900 opening at the Legion of Honor on February 18, promoted the integration of beauty and art into every aspect of life. William Morris (1834–1896) was a chief proponent of the Aesthetic Movement and contributed luxe designs for wallpaper, carpets, tiles, and furniture. His career as a textiles designer, however, quickly surpassed his involvement with all other areas of artistic production.

Bird wall hanging, 1878

William Morris (English, 1834–1896). Bird wall hanging, 1878 (detail). Wool jacquard woven doublecloth. Museum purchase, Art Trust Fund. 1996.47

FRAME|WORK: A Statue of Asklepios from Hellenistic Greece

The subject of quality health care has dominated political rhetoric for decades, but the issue has been of interest for centuries. This week’s FRAME | WORK examines one of the earliest manifestations of the power of medicine in the form of the Statue of Asklepios currently on view in the Hall of Antiquities at the Legion of Honor.

FRAME|WORK: The Empire of Flora by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week we present a dynamic work by one of Italy’s most important painters. Giovanni Battista Tiepolo’s The Empire of Flora is currently on loan to the Allentown Art Museum where it is featured in the special exhibition Shared Treasure: The Legacy of Samuel H. Kress.

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (Italian, 1696–1770). The Empire of Flora, ca. 1743. Oil on canvas. Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. 61.44.19

The Metamorphosis of Medusa

The Legion of Honor is currently host to a terrifyingly beautiful bust of The Medusa, on view through February 19. Created by master Baroque sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598–1680), this nightmare in marble arrives at the museum via the Dream of Rome, a project initiated by the mayor of Rome to exhibit timeless masterpieces in the United States. The Medusa is the inaugural loan in the prestigious partnership between the Fine Arts Museums and Rome’s Capitoline Museum.

Medusa projected onto the facade of the Legion of Honor

Will Work for Art: Gregory Stock

"Will Work for Art" takes you behind the scenes to meet the people who make the Fine Arts Museums work. This week we meet museum educator and "Mr. Friday Night," Gregory Stock. Originally from Saint Louis, Missouri, Gregory just celebrated his one-year anniversary as a full-time employee at the Museums.

Gregory Stock

FRAME|WORK: Candy Apples by Wayne Thiebaud

For many, the winter holidays are as much about eating as they are about gifting! Today’s FRAME|WORK features Wayne Thiebaud’s iconic Candy Apples, a delicious reminder to eat and love well this holiday season.

Artistic San Francisco Looks Good on Paper

Traditionally, exhibitions come with an associated publication, the requisite exhibition catalog. But in the case of Artistic San Francisco (on view at the Legion of Honor through January 22, 2012) this relationship was inverted, and in a surprising twist of fate, a book inspired an exhibition.

So how did this unusual chain of events come about? In early 2010, the Museums’ publications department approached Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts curator Jim Ganz and asked him to make a selection of Bay Area views for a small volume to be co-published with Pomegranate in the fall of 2011. Drawing from the vast holdings of the Legion of Honor and the de Young Museum, Ganz carefully chose a wide variety of artworks ranging in style, medium and time period to feature in the publication.

FRAME|WORK: Virgin and Child with Putti by Andrea della Robbia

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. As we approach the Christmas holiday, it seems only appropriate to examine one of the many works in the European Decorative Arts and Sculpture department that deals with the subject of the Holy Family. This poignant Virgin and Child with Putti by Andrea della Robbia is currently on display in Gallery 4 at the Legion of Honor.

Virgin and Child with Putti

Andrea della Robbia (Italian, Florence, 1437–1525). Virgin and Child with Putti, ca. 1490–1495. Glazed terracotta. Museum purchase, Alfred S. Wilsey Memorial Fund. 2003.1

Turpitudes Sociales Occupies the Legion of Honor

One of the most remarkable moments in Pissarro’s People (on view at the Legion of Honor through January 22, 2012) comes toward the end of the exhibition in the form of an album of pen and ink drawings entitled Turpitudes sociales (“social turpitude,” or disgraces).

Title page

Turpitudes sociales, 1889–1890. Thirty pen and brown ink over graphite drawings on paper pasted in an album. Album: 12 1/4 x 9 1/2 in. (31 x 24 cm). Collection of Jean Bonna, Geneva. Photo by Patrick Goetelen, Geneva, courtesy of Jean Bonna.

Art of the Radical Left (Coast)

Throughout art history, politics have inspired, informed and incited the cultural production of artists throughout the world. In today’s context of social and political unrest, the subject seems particularly relevant. Two major exhibitions in San Francisco and New York currently bookend the country with the art and politics of the radical left. In both Pissarro’s People (on view at the Legion of Honor through January 22, 2012) and Diego Rivera: Murals for the Museum of Modern Art (on view at the Museum of Modern Art through May 14, 2012), the political beliefs of the artists are placed front and center.

Pissarro Harvest

Camille Pissarro. The Harvest, 1882. Tempera on canvas. 27 11/16 x 49 9/16 in. The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, donated by the heirs of Mr. Kojiro Matsukata, P.1984-3

A Holiday Wish List

Are you still searching for the perfect gifts and best deals? Well, look no further! This week is cyber shopping week at the Fine Arts Museums' online store. Shop an array of unique and artful items exclusive to the Museums' online store, where you'll receive 15% off all regular price merchandise and 20% off our entire stock of holiday cards and calendars through Sunday, December 4!

FRAME|WORK: An Ancient Egyptian Relief from the Tomb of Mentuemhet

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, with the holiday shopping frenzy upon us, we feature a depiction of ancient Egyptian gift giving in the Relief from the Tomb of Mentuemhet, currently on view at the Legion of Honor.

Monet's Water Lilies Returns to the Legion of Honor!

Claude Monet’s incomparable Water Lilies has returned to Gallery 19 at the Legion of Honor! Following its display in two important temporary exhibitions, Water Lilies visited the Fine Arts Museums’ paintings conservation laboratory. In celebration of Monet’s birthday today, here is a behind-the-scenes look at the painting’s whereabouts over the past year.

To Honor the Dead While Serving the Living

On Armistice Day in 1924, the California Palace of the Legion of Honor opened its doors to the public. Dedicated to the 3,600 California soldiers, sailors and marines who gave their lives during World War I, the Legion of Honor pledged to “honor the dead while serving the living.”

Today, we not only celebrate the sacrifices of countless servicemen and women, but also the 87th birthday of the Legion of Honor Museum. To commemorate this meaningful day, we hope you enjoy this selection of related artwork.

The de Young Celebrates the 100th Anniversary of the San Francisco Symphony

Both the de Young and the San Francisco Symphony have been fixtures on the San Francisco arts and culture scene for over a century, the de Young originating from the 1894 Midwinter Fair and the Symphony celebrating an auspicious 100th anniversary this year. Our two institutions have a history of collaboration and cooperation, the most notable of which is the loan of the Fine Arts Museums’ priceless 18th-century Guarnerius violin—a bequest of famed musician Jascha Heifetz—to the symphony, where it is played by concertmaster Alexander Barantschik during performances at Davies Symphony Hall and the Legion of Honor’s Florence Gould Theater.

William Michael Harnett (American, 1848–1892). The Old Violin, ca. 1886. Lithograph on plate glass (reverse glass print). Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Brotherton in memory of Harry Packard. 2001.40

FRAME|WORK: Calavera de Don Folias y el Negrito by Jose Guadalupe Posada

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. Today we honor the culture of Día de los Muertos with a print from master Mexican graphic artist José Guadalupe Posada. This artwork is currently not on display, so we hope you enjoy this exclusive virtiual viewing.

Will Work for Art: Natasa Morovic

"Will Work for Art" takes you behind the scenes to meet the people who make the Fine Arts Museums work. This week we take you into the intriguing world of frame conservation to meet Natasa Morovic (imagine an “h” after the “s” in her first name, and after the “c” in her last name, and you get the right pronunciation). Natasa is the associate frames conservator working in Paintings Conservation. Originally from Slovenia, she has worked with the Museums for fourteen years!

Finding Hidden Treasures at the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show

The annual San Francisco Fall Antiques Show (SFFAS) has longstanding ties with the Fine Arts Museums, sharing benefactors, lenders, board members, and volunteers, including special project curator of European Decorative Arts and Sculpture, Maria Santangelo. For the past several years, Santangelo has donated her curatorial capabilities to the exhibition that serves as the centerpiece of the fair.

Word Gallery: Impressionism

Throughout art history, scholars have devised a special vocabulary to talk about art. These terms are very useful, but they are not always self-explanatory. Enter into the art historical word gallery, where we provide some definitions commonly used to describe artistic styles, techniques, or movements in art.

Impressionism

Word Gallery: Granulation

Throughout art history, scholars have devised a special vocabulary to talk about art. These terms are very useful, but they are not always self-explanatory. Enter into the art historical word gallery, where we provide some definitions commonly used to describe artistic styles, techniques, or movements in art.

FRAME|WORK: A Ceiling from the Palacio de Altamira, Spain

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature an extraordinary Spanish ceiling from the era of Christopher Columbus, currently installed at the Legion of Honor.

Anonymous maker, Ceiling from the Palacio de Altamira, Spanish 1482–1503. Painted, gilded, and composed wood. Gift of Mrs. Richard Ely Danielson and Mrs. Chauncey McCormick. 46.16

Will Work for Art: Rose Burke

"Will Work for Art" takes you behind the scenes to meet the people who make the Fine Arts Museums work. This week we step into the storeroom to meet Rose Burke, a buyer for the Museum Stores. Originally from right here in San Francisco, Burke has been with the Museums for six years.

Word Gallery: Still Life

Throughout art history, scholars have devised a special vocabulary to talk about art. These terms are very useful, but they are not always self-explanatory. So we thought we'd take you into the art historical word gallery to provide some definitions commonly used to describe artistic styles, techniques or movements in art.

FRAME|WORK: Magnolia Blossom by Imogen Cunningham

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature an iconic photograph by renowned Bay Area photographer Imogen Cunningham. Magnolia Blossom is currently not on view, so take some time to stop and smell the flowers (virtually)!

Will Work for Art: Christopher Lentz

"Will Work for Art" takes you behind the scenes to meet the people who make the Fine Arts Museums work. This week we introduce you to the fabulous Christopher Lentz, Manager of Visitor Services and Volunteer Programs. Originally from Nashville (by way of Honolulu), Christopher has been with the Museums for over two years.

FRAME|WORK: The Holy Family with the Infant Saint John the Baptist by Simon Vouet

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature an exquisite portrait of the holy family painted by a Frenchman in Italy. Simon Vouet's The Holy Family with the Infant Saint John the Baptist is currently on view at the Legion of Honor.

The Truth about Alabaster

You may have heard the term alabaster used to describe the pristine skin of a beautiful woman or the smooth surface of statue, as in the case of The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy, on view at the Legion of Honor through December 31.

Jean de La Huerta and Antoine le Moiturier. Mourner no. 55, mourner with head uncovered, wiping his tears on his cloak with his right hand, 1443–1456/57. Alabaster. Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon. Photo © FRAME (French Regional and American Museum Exchange) by Jared Bendis and François JAY.

Word Gallery: Workshop

Throughout art history, scholars have devised a special vocabulary to talk about art. These terms are very useful, but they are not always self-explanatory. So we thought we'd take you into the art historical word gallery to provide some definitions commonly used to describe artistic styles, techniques, or movements in art.

Will Work for Art: Chris Huson

"Will Work for Art" takes you behind the scenes to meet the people who make the Fine Arts Museums work. This week we meet Chris Huson, the Museums' courier, whose tireless trips between the two museums keep the staff in communication with each other and the outside world. Originally from Chicago, Chris has been with the Museums for thirty-two years!

Art Students Draw Inspiration from Museum Masterpieces

The academic tradition of learning to draw by imitating the works of established masters has been alive for centuries. Professor Rick Rodrigues has been bringing this rich tradition the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco since 1995, when he initiated a partnership between the City College of San Francisco and the Museums. Professor Rodrigues's drawing classes cover a variety of skills and techniques, ranging from basic life-drawing using models and tone-drawing to more obscure old-master techniques, such as silverpoint drawing or staining with tea or coffee. His much-beloved classes are a deeply fulfilling experience, giving  young artists the opportunity to learn from art history's old masters directly in the museum setting.

Visitors are always welcome to sketch in the Museums' permanent collection galleries. Sketching in special exhibition galleries is by permission only and subject to lender and gallery restrictions. Please see our museum policies for more information.

Sketching in the Rodin Gallery at the Legion of Honor

City College San Francisco Students sketching in the Rodin Gallery at the Legion of Honor.

Education intern Megan Friel recently sat down with Professor Rodrigues, who is still passionately committed to the academic tradition of museum drawing after 16 years of teaching, to discuss his experiences directing the program.

Word Gallery: Passage

Throughout art history, scholars have devised a special vocabulary to talk about art. These terms are very useful, but they are not always self-explanatory. So we thought we'd take you into the art historical word gallery to provide some definitions commonly used to describe artistic styles, techniques, or movements in art.

A Life of Books: Remembering David Logan

Favorite Things: An Exhibition of Artist Books in Memory of David Logan, 1918–2011, a selection of books from the Reva and David Logan Collection of Illustrated Books, is currently on view at the Legion of Honor in through February 12, 2012. 

Comprising approximately 300 volumes, the Logan Collection is one of the foremost collections of modern artists’ books (also called livres d’artiste, or illustrated books) to find a home within a museum.

David and Reva Logan

FRAME|WORK: Fuji in Clear Weather (Red Fuji) by Katsushika Hokusai

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature the graphically arresting Red Fuji by renowned Japanese printmaker Katsushika Hokusai. A well-known Japanese saying suggests that you would be a fool not to climb Mount Fuji once, but a fool to do so twice. Since it is currently not on view, you would be a fool not to enjoy this virtual viewing of Mount Fuji!

Katsushika Hokusai (Japanese, 1760–1849). Fuji in Clear Weather (Red Fuji), from the series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, ca. 1830–1832. Color woodcut. Gift of Miss Carlotta Mabury. 54755.456

Word Gallery: Aerial Perspective

Throughout art history, scholars have devised a special vocabulary to talk about art. These terms are very useful, but they are not always self-explanatory. So we thought we'd explore the art historical word gallery to provide you with some definitions commonly used to describe artistic styles, techniques or movements in art.

Aerial perspective

Jan Brueghel the Elder (Brussels 1568–1625 Antwerp). Village Scene with a Canal, 1609. Oil on copper. The Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection. Image courtesy Peabody Essex Museum.

Ancient Art Teachers Institute at the Legion of Honor

The Fine Arts Museums’ collection of antiquities has played a central role in the development of both the de Young and the Legion of Honor. This summer, we offered a teacher institute for sixth grade teachers to enrich their schools by using our ancient art collections in their curricula. This program, presented in partnership with the UC Berkeley History–Social Studies Project (UCBH-SSP), gave teachers the tools to teach students how to think like historians.

FRAME|WORK: The Thinker by Auguste Rodin

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature an iconic work by the father of modern sculpture, Auguste Rodin. The Thinker is currently on view in the Court of Honor at the Legion of Honor.

Auguste Rodin (French, 1840–1917). The Thinker, 1904. Cast bronze. Gift of Alma de Bretteville Spreckels. 1924.18.1

Lights, Camera, Action! Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo at the Legion of Honor

This Saturday, August 13, marks the birthdate of legendary British film director Alfred Hitchcock, who was born in London in 1899. Famous for his psychological thrillers and virtuoso use of suspense, Hitchcock had a particular affinity for the San Francisco Bay Area, using it as a setting for several of his films, including The Birds (1963), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), and perhaps most famously, Vertigo (1958).

FRAME|WORK: An ancient Egyptian coffin from the Thirtieth Dynasty

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature an enigmatic coffin from Egypt's turbulent past. Currently on view at the Legion of Honor, this ancient artwork provides insight into Egypt's past.

Will Work for Art: Paul Palacios

"Will Work for Art" takes you behind the scenes to meet the people who make the Fine Arts Museums work. This week we take you into the tech shop, where preparator Paul Palacios installs the art that makes the galleries and exhibitions you see possible! Originally from Texas, Paul has been with the Museums for almost thirteen years, minus the two he spent working at the Asian Art Museum during the construction of the new de Young.

A Day in the Life of the Museum Ambassadors

Last week you met the Museum Ambassadors, a highly motivated group of high school students trained to educate younger students about all things art. Today, we give you a sneak peek into the work that they do here at the Museums.

Weeks before we begin giving community tours, we memorize our scripts with our fellow ambassadors.

FRAME|WORK: Hyacinthe-Gabrielle Roland by Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature a sumptuous portrait of an 18th-century beauty painted by Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun in the wake of the French Revolution. The lovely Hyacinthe is currently on view in Gallery 16 at the Legion of Honor!

Will Work for Art: Ann Hedges

"Will Work for Art" takes you behind the scenes to meet the people who make the Fine Arts Museums work. This week we take you into the whimsical world of the Flower Committee, where we meet artist Ann Hedges. Originally from New York City, Ann has been volunteering with the Museums for fifteen years.

Discovering Connections: Teaching Institute Hosted by the Asian Art Museum, SFMOMA, and the Fine Arts Museums

For the past three years the education departments of the Asian Art Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco have met to explore how collaborative programming can better support Bay Area teachers. Last week, building on this objective, the museums jointly hosted a four-day institute for high school teachers that focused on the theme of Discovering Connections.

The World-famous "David" Violin is on View at the Legion of Honor!

For a limited one-month engagement, the famed violin “The David” made by Giuseppe Antonio Guarneri (del Gesú) is on display at the Legion of Honor through August 10!

Bequeathed to the Museums in 1989 by Jascha Heifetz, who was one of the world’s greatest violinists, this instrument currently spends most of its time at the San Francisco Symphony in the skilled hands of Concertmaster Alexander “Sascha” Barantschik.

Guiseppe Antonio Guarneri del Gesu (Italian, 1687–1745). Violin, ca. 1740. Spruce and maple. Bequest of Jascha Heifetz. 1989.6.1

Will Work for Art: Jim Ganz

"Will Work for Art" takes you behind the scenes to meet the people who make the Fine Arts Museums work. This week we take you into the curatorial department at the Legion of Honor to meet Jim Ganz, curator of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts. Originally from West Hartford, Connecticut, Jim has been with the Museums for three years and one month (but who's counting, anyway?).

FRAME|WORK: Lewis Powell (Alias Payne), Conspirator, Seated and Manacled by Alexander Gardner

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature a powerful Civil War-era photograph from The Album of the Lincoln Conspiracy. This work is currently not on view, so we have provided an exclusive online viewing!

Conservation Treatment of a Monumental Print

A monumental 17th-century etching/engraving by the artist Jacques Callot is currently on view in the Jacqueline and Peter Hoefer Print Study Room at the Legion of Honor. In addition to a dramatic naval battle scene, the print depicts many fascinating details of daily life, which are visible upon close inspection. Although the print was acquired by the museums in 1968, it had never been exhibited due to condition issues.

Old Masters in Context: The Dutch Golden Age at the Legion of Honor

Dutch and Flemish Masterworks from the Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection opens this Saturday, July 9 at the Legion of Honor. In preparation, bone up on your 17th-century history with these fun facts about the Dutch Golden Age and paintings on view in our permanent collection!

ca. 1600 | Wigs and dress trains become fashionable. William Shakespeare writes Hamlet.

1609 | Johannes Kepler announces important laws of planetary motion.

1611 | King James Bible is published.

1612 | Peter Paul Rubens paints The Tribute Money.

On view in Gallery 14.

Will Work for Art: Brandon Ballog

"Will Work for Art" takes you behind the scenes to meet the people who make the Fine Arts Museums work. This week we take you into the graphic design department, where all of the visual material associated with the Museums (except the art, of course) is created. Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Brandon Ballog is a junior graphic designer who has been with the Museums for almost three years.

The Lod Mosaic as Muse for Berkeley High School Seniors!

Last week, the Legion of Honor received a special visit from Berkeley High School’s Latin class. This group of thirty-seven seniors took time out of the final, hectic days of high school to see Marvelous Menagerie: A Roman Mosaic from Lod, Israel, which has served as their muse for the past several weeks.

Under Wraps: The furniture at the Legion gets custom-made covers

For the last several months, Textile Conservation volunteers Kathy Murphy, Jean Scardina, intern Erica Storm and Objects Conservation volunteer Tegan Broderick have all been hard at work making covers for the furniture stored at the Legion of Honor. While most of the chairs were already stored beneath loose-fitting pieces of cloth, custom covers provide the objects with better protection from light and dust. Clearly labeled covers also facilitate quick identification of the objects underneath and prevent unnecessary handling.

FRAME|WORK: El Aborto (Frida and the Miscarriage) by Frida Kahlo

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature a powerful lithograph created by the formidable Frida Kahlo. This work is currently not on view, so we have provided this exclusive virtual viewing!

Will Work for Art: Clara Hatcher

"Will Work for Art" takes you behind the scenes to meet the people who make the Fine Arts Museums work. This week we feature a member of the frontline. Clara Hatcher works as the de Young receptionist and supports the visitor services and marketing departments. Originally from Ithaca, New York, Clara has been with the Museums for three years.

FRAME|WORK: An imperial tea service by Peter Carl Fabergé

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature an exquisite tea service from Russia made by Peter Carl Fabergé currently on view at the Legion of Honor.

FRAME|WORK: A vessel in the shape of a lion from ancient Anatolia

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature an ancient terracotta drinking vessel in the shape of a lion from Turkey, currently on view at the Legion of Honor.

Will Work for Art: Chris Bennett

 "Will Work for Art" takes you behind the scenes to meet the people who make the Fine Arts Museums work. In this case, we go behind the counter to meet Chris Bennett, the de Young Café Manager. Originally from San Clemente, CA, Chris has been with the Museums for four years.

FRAME|WORK: Third Class Carriage by Honorè Daumier

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, a painting by Honorè Daumier depicts an activity with which we are all too familiar: the commute. Third Class Carriage (Un Wagon de Troissieme Classe) is currently on display at the Legion of Honor in Gallery 17.


Honorè Daumier (French, 1808–1879)
Third Class Carriage (Un Wagon de Troisieme Classe), 1856–1858
Oil on panel
10 1/4 x 13 3/8 (26 x 33.9 cm)
Museum purchase, Whitney Warren, Jr. Bequest Fund in memory of Mrs. Adolph B. Spreckels, Bequest funds of Henry S. Williams in memory of H.K.S. Williams, Magnin Income Fund, Art Trust Fund, Alexander and Jean de Bretteville Fund, Art Acquisition Endowment Income Fund in honor of Mrs. John N. Rosekrans, 1996.51

Pulp Fashion Goes Pop!

The art of Isabelle de Borchgrave is in itself a type of recycling. Inspired by sumptuous costume and textiles from the past, de Borchgrave recreates some of history’s most iconic fashions in the surprising medium of paper. Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave, on view at the Legion of Honor through June 12, displays paper outfits derived from those seen in European paintings, museum collections, photographs, sketches and even literary descriptions. De Borchgrave’s art practice seems particularly relevant in today’s conservation-minded climate in which “recycle and reuse” has become a mantra for artists and fashionistas alike.

Paper fashion was not always associated with such principled objectives. In the late 1960s, when de Borchgrave was just beginning her career, paper dresses captured the cultural zeitgeist not only for their pithy design and novelty, but specifically for their disposability.

Will Work for Art: Steven Correll

"Will Work for Art" takes you behind the scenes to meet the people who make the Fine Arts Museums operate. Steven F. Correll is a Registrar who literally makes the "scene" possible by organizing and tracking artwork as it moves through the Museums. Originally from San Diego, CA and Ponca City, OK, Steve has been with the Museums for 4 years.

RTI Photography of the Red-Figure Pelike

In my last post, I introduced you to the cutting edge photography Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), a technique invented by Tom Malzbender at Hewlett Packard Labs. Here at the Museums, we have been using RTI to gain better understanding of objects in our permanent collection. We have just completed another round of RTI photography of this 5th-century Greek pelike.

Preserving Images of the 1906 Earthquake

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco is home to a unique collection of 167 film negatives taken by photographer Arnold Genthe chronicling the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake and fires. The negatives were acquired by the Legion of Honor in 1943.

Genthe 1

Arnold Genthe (photographer), American, 1869–1942
Untitled (Earthslip on San Francisco's Union Street), 1906
Cellulose nitrate negative
Museum purchase, James D. Phelan Bequest Fund. 1943.407.6.1

On the day of the earthquake Genthe, an established photographer best known for his society portraits and views of old Chinatown, took to the streets of San Francisco equipped with a handheld Kodak camera and pockets full of roll film.

The film Genthe used was composed of a gelatin silver emulsion on a thin plastic support of cellulose nitrate. Cellulose nitrate film was introduced commercially at the end of the nineteenth century and remained in use until the mid-twentieth century. Lightweight, transparent and flexible, cellulose nitrate film freed photographers from the inconveniences of its predecessors, paper and glass plate negatives.

Marvelous Menagerie Unmasked

In 1996 construction workers accidentally uncovered a mosaic while widening a road in the modern Israeli town of Lod, near Tel Aviv. A preliminary excavation immediately conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) revealed that three feet below the modern surface there was a mosaic floor dating to about AD 300. The three most complete and impressive panels from the floor are on view at the Legion of Honor through July 24.

Mosaic floor central panel, Roman, ca. AD 300. Excavated at Lod (Lydda), Israel. Stone tesserae. Israel Antiquities Authority and the Shelby White and Leon Levy Lod Mosaic Center. Image courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

Will Work for Art: Rich Rice

"Will Work for Art" takes you behind the scenes to meet the people who make the Fine Arts Museums possible. Rich Rice, the AV/IT Coordinator, is about as behind-the-scenes as you can get! Originally from Connecticut, Rich has been with the Museums for 15 years (he thinks).

Happy Birthday, Richard Diebenkorn!

Today the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco wish a happy birthday to renowned artist Richard Diebenkorn. The Fine Arts Museums have enjoyed a long relationship with the artist since the Legion of Honor hosted Diebenkorn’s first solo exhibition in 1948. From that point on, the Museums were ardent supporters of the artist and his work. Both the American Art Department and the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts have compiled significant holdings of his work.

Richard Diebenkorn (American, 1922–1993)
Seawall, 1957, Oil on canvas
Gift of Phyllis G. Diebenkorn, 1995.96
© The Estate of Richard Diebenkorn

Jacques Neguer discusses the conservation of the Lod Mosaic

Conservators Jacques Neguer and Ghaleb Abu Diab of the Israel Antiquities Authority are visiting from Israel to oversee the conservation and installation of the Lod Mosaic at the Legion of Honor. The mosaic was discovered below the streets of the city of Lod in Israel and arrived to the U.S. in seven panels. This mosaic floor is the centerpiece of the exhibition Marvelous Menagerie: A Roman Mosaic from Lod, Israel, which opens this Saturday, April 23 at the Legion of Honor.

FAM acting head objects conservator Lesley Bone sat down with her two colleagues to discuss the discovery of the mosaic and the conservation treatments they conducted. It is a fascinating conversation that reveals the behind-the-scenes science that goes into an object before it is placed on view and provides a rare glimpse into the way conservators think and talk about works of art.

Jacques Negeur and Lesley Bone

When the earth shakes, come to the de Young!

In 2009, senior registrar Stephen Lockwood came across a series of ledger books while examining the de Young’s offsite storage facility. These antique books contained detailed records of the weather and daily attendance at the de Young since its opening day in 1895. One entry was particularly interesting:

Portrait of King George VI—Dedicatee of the Szyk Haggadah

Szyk, Arthur, King George VI, London: 1938. Original watercolor and gouache pain

Arthur Szyk, King George VI, London: 1938. Original watercolor and gouache painting. 7 ½” x 5 ¼”. In original frame with fine French matting. Signed and dated. “Arthur Szyk Pinxit. [Latin: he painted it] London. 1938.”

The Academy Award-nominated film The King’s Speech sheds new light on the life of King George VI. Currently on view in Gallery 1 at the Legion of Honor is a portrait of the king that provides yet another glimpse of the royal.

King George VI was painted by Arthur Szyk in the illuminated style with an intricate, richly designed border pattern and a profusion of traditional iconography representing Great Britain. In this painting, the 43-year-old king is presented in full military uniform before an open window. Behind the window curtain of royal tartan cloth, the River Thames and the Palace of Westminster appear in exquisite miniature. In the upper right corner is a shield representing a composite of the United Kingdom’s symbols. Topped by St. Edward’s crown are: the motto of the Royal Order of the Garter “honi soit qui mal y pense” (evil be to him who evil thinks); the royal motto “Dieu et Mon Droit” (my God and my right); the lion of England and the royal unicorn of Scotland, the royal orb (crown), Scottish lions, and the Irish harp. Within the quarter-inch illuminated border are additional micro-shields with further symbols of the realm, including Scottish thistles, Irish harps and shamrocks.

Inspiration: New Works Created after Paintings in the Legion's Collection

In preperation for the exhibition Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave at the Legion of Honor, artist Isabelle de Borchgrave created five new works inspired by paintings in the European paintings collection of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Selected by de Borchgrave during a summer 2010 visit to the Legion of Honor, the paintings include Anthony van Dyck's Marie Claire de Croy, Duchess d'Havre and Child (1634), Massimo Stanzione's Woman in Neapolitan Costume (ca. 1635), Konstantin Makovsky's The Russian Bride's Attire (1889), and Jacob-Ferdinand Voet's late 17th-century Anna Caffarelli Minuttiba.

All five of de Borchgrave's life-sized interpretations are on view in the last gallery of the exhibition. After taking in Pulp Fashion on the Legion's lower level, head upstairs to find three of the four paintings. (The portrait of Anna Caffarelli Minuttiba is not on public view, as it's currently being worked on in our conservation studio.)

Marie Claire de Croy and Child

Marie Claire de Croy and Child, 2010
 

Marie Claire de Croy and Child by Van Dyck

Anthony van Dyck (Flemish, 1599–1641), Marie Claire de Croy, Duchess d'Havre and Child, 1634.
Oil on canvas, 81 1/2 x 48 1/2 inches. 58.43
On view in Gallery 14.

Without Visible Means of Support

Installation of Japanese Books in the Reva and David Logan Gallery of Illustrated Books

Go behind the scenes at the Legion of Honor as paper conservators prepare and install 37 rare Japanese books for the exhibition Aspects of Mount Fuji in Japanese Illustrated Books from the Arthur Tress Collection.

Hokusai, Untitled (Fuji Seen from Above the Waves), [detail] from the book
One Hundred Views of Fuji, 1835. Collection of Arthur Tress.
 

   

Utagawa Hiroshige, Fuji seen through cherry trees, in the book
One Hundred Views of Fuji (Fujimi Hyakuzu), 1859. Collection of Arthur Tress.
 

Another Wave

The Wave, 2005, by Kay Sekimachi

In 2005, Bay Area artist Kay Sekimachi gifted the museum a seminal work, a miniature book—The Wave. The Wave comes from her series of accordion books that were inspired by the Japanese artist Hokusai prints from his own series Hundred Views of Mt. Fuji. Woven in natural linen, Sekimachi used a painted-warp technique to imprint the repetitive pattern of the wave on the book’s covers and pages and a double-weave technique to create the accordion folds. The meditative quality of Sekimachi’s work belies the complexity of her techniques. Her work reflects a combination of influences— from the Japanese aesthetic comes her purity of form and reverence of nature and from her early Bauhaus training the control of geometry and symmetry, as well as, the exploration of the double-weave technique. 

Jill D'Alessandro, Curator, Textile Arts

New Acquisition on View: The Absinthe Drinkers by Jean-François Raffaëlli

The Absinthe Drinkers, 1881Visitors to the exhibition Birth of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d'Orsay can get a look at one of the Fine Arts Museum's newest acquisitions, The Absinthe Drinkers (Les buveurs d'absinthe), 1881, by Jean-François Raffaëlli (French, 1850–1924). The Absinthe Drinkers is widely regarded as among Raffaëlli's most important and accomplished paintings. It can be viewed at the entrance to Birth of Impressionism this summer, but will eventually take up permanent residence in the Legion of Honor's gallery 19.

Although not counted among the Impressionists, the Realist Raffaëlli nonetheless exhibited The Absinthe Drinkers (at the invitation of Degas, who sought to increase the number of figural painters involved) at the sixth Impressionist group show in 1881.There it caused a sensation due to its gritty imagery and portrayal of the devastating effects of addiction to the potent drink absinthe.

A Spooky Night at the Legion

Last Friday, ArtPoint hosted a ghoulish costume gala at the Legion of Honor. Hundreds of art enthusiasts braved the Richmond fog to dance the night away in tribute to Halloween and the opening of Very Postmortem: Mummies and Medicine. The exterior columns of the Legion looked spooktacular with purple and blue lighting. As guests made their way to the entrance, creepy music played from the dark corners of the Court of Honor.