San Francisco's most beautiful museum
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 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 more than 800 European paintings includes masterpieces from the 14th to the early 20th centuries. The approximately 250 paintings on view present a survey of artistic accomplishments by Europe’s leading masters, from Fra Angelico to Claude Monet.
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.
Ancient Art has been an integral part of the Legion of Honor and the de Young since they were founded. Antiquities were considered essential to any museum in the early 20th century, and both M. H. de Young, founder of the de Young, and Alma Spreckels, founder of the Legion of Honor, furnished their institutions with a variety of ancient objects. The works they brought to the museums and those that have been added over the years cover a broad geographical and chronological range across the ancient Mediterranean basin—primarily Egypt, the Near East, Greece, the Aegean Islands, Etruria, and Rome. One of the earliest and largest gifts of ancient art was a group of antiquities received by Spreckels from Elisabeth, the Queen of Greece.
The photography collection of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco spans the entire history of the medium, with particular strength in nineteenth-century American and European photography. The de Young museum accepted photographs into its collection during its earliest years, starting with documentary scenes of the California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894. The collection also includes large concentrations of historical California photographs, with many views of the Bay Area as well as a significant holding of daguerreotype portraits.
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