AAA Editor Notes
Legion of Honor is in Lincoln Park near the jct. of 34th Ave. and Clement St. This world-class art museum owes its existence to Alma Spreckels, wife of wealthy sugar magnate Adolph B. Spreckels. An avid art collector, Mrs. Spreckels persuaded her husband to fund construction of a three-quarter-scale version of the 18th-century Palais de la Légion d'Honneur in Paris. Dedicated to California soldiers who died in France during World War I, the museum opened on Armistice Day in 1924.
The permanent collection spans more than 4,000 years of art. An original cast of “The Thinker,” one of more than 70 sculptures by Auguste Rodin, dominates the outdoor Court of Honor; other noteworthy sculptures in the Rodin Gallery include “The Three Shades” and “Bust of Victor Hugo.”
European art features paintings by Fra Angelico, El Greco, Pablo Picasso, Rembrandt van Rijn and Peter Paul Rubens. Anthony van Dyck's “Marie Claire de Croy” is one of the artist's larger-than-life works of portraiture, while “Portrait of a Gentleman” by Nicolas de la Largillière depicts a member of Parisian royalty swaddled in expensive brocade and sporting a massive powdered wig. Don't miss “The Russian Bride's Attire” by Konstantin Makovsky; this enormous painting is full of lovely details and has a luminous quality.
Among the major gifts from Mrs. Spreckels' personal collection are French furniture, ceramics and decorative silver objects. Ancient works of art include antiquities from the Mediterranean and the Near East. Also on display are tapestries, porcelains, a group of illustrated books and an extensive collection of prints, drawings and photographs.
On the front lawn stands the equestrian statue “El Cid.” The 11th-century Castilian military leader holds a spear aloft while his steed looks toward a panoramic view of San Francisco Bay, with the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. On a more somber note, the Holocaust Memorial depicts bodies sprawled on the ground while another figure stands nearby, one hand touching a barbed-wire fence.
Guided tours are available. Food is available.