Rainy Days in San Francisco: Legion of Honor

Legion of Honor | Fine Arts Museum San Francisco

[Real-time life update: Today I conducted a visit in a clinic in San Diego, drove to the airport, and have arrived in Denver. I’ll conduct a visit tomorrow then head back to San Diego.]

On Saturday it was rainy. The damp and cold weather made the perfect conditions to visit a museum. Nicole and I got on the BART and then took a bus to make our way to the Legion of Honor museum. I love public transport. Call me a freak, but one of my favorite things when I lived in Manhattan was being able to catch the subway to go pretty much anywhere. Reliability on public transport rather than personal vehicles, typically suggests that the location is a relatively walkable city. Walking around cities is a stress relieving activity for me. When I walk around cities, not only are my novelty needs met, but I’m also overwhelmed by how not alone I feel.

I hadn’t done back-research on the museum and based on the name expected some kind of military exhibit. According to the Legion of Honor website,

“The Legion of Honor, San Francisco’s most beautiful museum, displays an impressive collection of 4,000 years of ancient and European art in an unforgettable setting overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge.

Built to commemorate Californian soldiers who died in World War I, the Legion of Honor is a beautiful Beaux-arts building located in San Francisco’s Lincoln Park. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Golden Gate Bridge and all of San Francisco, the Legion is most noted for its breathtaking setting. Its collections include Rodin’s Thinker, which sits in the museum’s Court of Honor, European decorative arts and paintings, Ancient art, and one of the largest collections of prints and drawings in the country.

The Legion of Honor is part of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Learn more about the Fine Arts Museums and its Board of Trustees.” {Source}

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Here are some images from that day:

Overlooking the Bay: Rainy Day at Lincoln Park
Rooted Lighting
These pieces range from 1601 – 1690. Though the style of the furniture and accents is more gaudy and detailed, the ensemble reminded me of Boldt Castle in Alexandria Bay, NY. Additionally, standing in front of the set-up also distantly reminded me of the George Eastman House Museum in Rochester, NY.  After looking at the image, it’s mostly the chair that reminds me of both locations.
When I first looked at this image, I was captivated. I thought – wow, isn’t this still how the world works? Here’s a bit about the artist, Jean-Léon Gérôme : “After 1855, Gérôme undertook numerous trips to the eastern Mediterranean, this not too distant “elsewhere” which, in the mid 19th century, lay beyond Greece. He made it the subject of many of his works.
His Orientalist works are quite curious. Drawing on the pictorial and literary imagination of his time, Gérôme invented oriental scenes, using meticulously accurate detail and his open recourse to photographs taken during his trips to disguise his strategy. The Orient that Gérôme depicted was dreamed up by Victor Hugo in 1829 in his poetic work Orientales, and his “authentic” images at that time confirmed a view of the Orient as a place of sensuality and violence. In 1863, a critic described the sinister excursion on the Nile depicted in The Prisoner: “All aspects of the Orient are there – its implacable fatalism, its passive submission, its eternal tranquillity, its brazen insults and its ruthless cruelty”.
Gérôme’s “accurate” images seemed even more genuine as they unfailingly recreated the Orient that his contemporaries expected. They brought a stamp of authenticity to this fantasy. Gérôme, however, took many liberties, and few of his works are the result of direct observation. The purported historical, geographical or ethnographic settings in the majority of his paintings do not stand up to close analysis.
Gérôme succeeded in painting an image of the Orient that was immutable, untouched, and presented for a western audience. He thus managed to captivate a public that delighted in fixed images of an unchanging “elsewhere”. {Source}



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