Collections

The California Palace of the Legion of Honor originated as the French pavilion in San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915. Alma de Bretteville Spreckels was so impressed with the pavilion that she offered to construct a permanent museum in its likeness, which was completed in 1924 and now stands as the Legion of Honor. Today, the Legion of Honor’s collection contains over 124,000 works of art and is recognized for its European decorative arts, sculpture and painting; Ancient art from throughout the Mediterranean and the Near East; and one of the largest collections of works on paper in the country.

  • Carlo Dolci, Saint Julian, ca. 1640. Oil on panel. FAMSF, gift of Phoebe Cowles and Robert Girard, 2014.10
October 15, 2014
Carlo Dolci was one of the most acclaimed artists in Florence in the 17th century, who specialized in portraits, altarpieces, and single-figure paintings. He likely based this depiction of Saint Julian—a refined image of tender piousness—on a panel by Cristofano Allori (1608–1610), which served as the movable screen of a large reliquary located in the church of Santa Maria Novella, Florence (now...
  • Strawberry Hill House commode, England, London, 1763. Pierre Eloy Langlois, cabinetmaker. Chinese lacquer, japanning, ormolu mounts, and verde antico marble top. FAMSF, gift of Mrs. William P. Roth, 1985.58a–b
September 1, 2014
The sumptuous commode that belonged to Horace Walpole joins Gallery 13 at the Legion of Honor in anticipation of the upcoming exhibition Houghton Hall: Portrait of an English Country House. Mounted in Chinese lacquer and embellished with ormolu mounts, this commode was purchased in 1763 by Horace Walpole, the youngest son of Robert Walpole, Britain’s first prime minister and the builder of...
  • La Hyre painting
August 1, 2014
A recent acquisition, Allegory of Geometry (1649), a masterpiece from a well-known series of paintings depicting the Seven Liberal Arts by the French Baroque artist Laurent de La Hyre (1606–1656),  makes its debut in Gallery 6 at the Legion of Honor this month. Other paintings in the series are held by major institutions, including the National Gallery in London (Allegory of Grammar), the...
  • Anthony van Dyck (Flemish, 1599–1641)
February 7, 2014
The genius of Flemish painter Anthony van Dyck will be on display at the Legion of Honor beginning this week in his elegant Portrait of a Lady (ca. 1620), a work with an intriguing history that is tied to the museum’s own. Thomas Carr Howe Jr., director of the Legion of Honor from 1939 to 1968, was a leading figure with the “Monuments Men”—the art and museum professionals of the Monuments, Fine...
  • Ruins with Sibyl
October 7, 2013
Motivated by three important acquisitions, the curators of European painting, sculpture, and decorative arts have recently modified the presentation of works in Gallery 7 at the Legion of Honor, which features French and Italian Baroque and Rococo art. Colin B. Bailey, the Museums’ newly appointed director and an internationally respected art historian and curator specializing in 18th- and 19th-...
  • The Triumph of Fortitude
August 22, 2013
Starting August 31, 2013, the Legion of Honor’s Gallery 1 will display three gems from the Fine Arts Museums’ renowned collection of tapestries: The Triumph of Fortitude, The Triumph of Justice, and The Triumph of Prudence. This will be the first time in the Museums’ history that all three tapestries will be displayed together.These three tapestries belong to the series The Triumph of the Seven...
  • Sunflowers Along the Seine
August 22, 2013
The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco have received a generous bequest of three paintings from the estate of Diana Dollar Knowles: Sunflowers along the Seine (ca. 1885–1886), by Gustave Caillebotte, and Ruins with Prophet and Ruins with Sibyl (both 1731), by Giovanni Paolo Panini. These additions represent the first examples of each artist’s work to enter the collection of the Fine Arts Museums....
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European Painting
Ancient Art
Works on Paper
The Bowles Collection of 18th-Century English and French Porcelain