European Painting

The Fine Arts Museums’ collection of European paintings is showcased throughout the elegant Beaux-Arts architecture of the Legion of Honor’s galleries. The Legion’s rich collection of over 800 European paintings includes masterworks from the 14th into the early the 20th centuries. Approximately 250 paintings on view present a survey of pre-twentieth century artistic accomplishments by Europe’s leading masters, from Fra Angelico to Picasso.

The Legion’s permanent collection reflects a history of patronage by its founders, Adolph B. and Alma de Bretteville Spreckels, whose particular collecting focus was 18th- and 19th-century French art. Additional early donors of note include Archer M. Huntington, Mildred Anna Williams and Albert Campbell Hooper, whose generosity fashioned the present collection’s particular character. The Roscoe and Margaret Oakes collection brought highlights in Dutch, Flemish and British art of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, including works by Rembrandt van Rijn, Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, Thomas Gainsborough, Joshua Reynolds and Henry Raeburn. A selection of important paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection brought with it major works by El Greco, Pieter de Hooch and Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.