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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.

    • Aelbert Cuyp, Fishing under the Ice on the Maas (detail), 17th century. Oil on panel transferred to hardboard. FAMSF, museum purchase, Roscoe and Margaret Oakes Income Fund, 63.22
    April 1, 2015
    Gallery 15 at the Legion of Honor has been reinstalled to offer new insights into the Museums’ strong collection of seventeenth century Dutch and Flemish art. Changes include the addition of specially selected paintings from storage, reconceived arrangements of decorative art objects, and a fresh shade of color on the walls.Among the noteworthy additions is Fishing under the Ice on the Maas (mid-...
    March 1, 2015
    A Princely Pursuit: The Malcolm D. Gutter Collection of Early Meissen Porcelain presents 103 significant pieces from the collection of Malcolm Gutter, all promised gifts to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Founded in 1710 near Dresden, Germany, the Meissen manufactory was the first in Europe to produce hard-paste porcelain in imitation of the Chinese and Japanese ceramics that the East...
    • Dancing woman figurine
    March 1, 2015
    This second-century BC figurine of a dancing woman in the permanent collection at the Legion of Honor conveys a grace of movement that is accentuated by the fabric that swirls around her body. She wears a traditional sleeveless chiton, a garment made from a rectangular piece of cloth that is folded over to create an overblouse and is belted high under the dancer’s breasts. A pin on her left...
    • Yves Saint Laurent, evening dress, 1967. Beige silk and golden brown raffia; applied wood and brass beads. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, gift of Mrs. John N. Rosekrans Jr., 2012.42.138
    February 19, 2015
    Clothes tell a story. A dress may reveal the defining spirit of a particular period; an accessory can captures the craftsmanship of its maker. The upcoming exhibition High Style: The Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection brings seminal pieces by some of the 20th century’s most important designers to the Legion of Honor and continues the Fine Arts Museums’ commitment to celebrating and collecting...
    • Portrait of Charles de Verninac by Eugène Delacroix
    February 1, 2015
    The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco are pleased to announce the acquisition of the Portrait of Charles de Verninac, by Eugène Delacroix (French, 1798–1863). This is the first painting by the artist to enter the Museums’ collection, which strengthens the institution’s holdings of French Romantic paintings of the early nineteenth century.Delacroix was one of the foremost practitioners of...
    January 1, 2015
    2014 marks the 400th anniversary of the death of El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos, 1541–1614). To commemorate this event, the Legion of Honor presents a special installation of its three works by the artist. Displayed together for the first time in over a decade are the artist’s Saint Francis Venerating the Crucifix (ca. 1595), Saint John the Baptist (ca. 1600), and Saint Peter (ca. 1605–1610...
    • 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...
European Painting
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Works on Paper