European Sculpture

European Sculpture is one of the founding collections of the Legion of Honor. At the core is a series of masterworks by Auguste Rodin formed by Legion founder Alma de Bretteville Spreckels, the most famous of which, The Thinker, has become the emblem of the museum.

Starting in the Middle Ages, the sculpture collection includes such highlights as della Robbia’s Virgin and Child with Putti from fifteenth-century Florence, a 1560s marble bust of Cosimo de’ Medici by Cellini, Giambologna’s sculpture Astronomy, and significant pieces by French sculptors Clodion, Houdon, and Maillol. A recent addition is a lifelike Spanish polychrome figure of Saint Francis dating from around 1650. The Legion’s founding sculpture holdings are more than ninety Rodin sculptures made during the artist’s lifetime, including The Thinker, The Three Shades, The Age of Bronze, and studies for The Burghers of Calais given by Alma de Bretteville Spreckels. The central placement of these works in the introductory galleries of the museum is an appropriate recognition of the Legion’s distinction as the home of one of the earliest and most important collections of Rodin sculptures in the United States.

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Rodin at the Legion of Honor

The work of the French sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840–1917) lies at the heart of the Legion of Honor’s collection. The collection was assembled by the museum’s founder, Alma de Bretteville Spreckels, from 1915. She gathered a group of works that American dancer Loïe Fuller called “the greatest... View More