Thursday, April 11, 2024

San Francisco's Legion of Honor Museum


The Legion of Honor Museum


A trip to San Francisco last fall brought me to the San Francisco Legion of Honor. This museum, along with the de Young Museum, in Golden Gate Park, make up the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. The Legion of Honor is in Lincoln Park, at the north-west corner of the city, over looking the entrance to the Golden Gate.

El Cid Campeador by Anna Hyatt Huntington

Pax Jerusalemme by Mark di Suvero


The Legion of Honor opened in 1924. It was founded by Alma de Brettville Spreckels (1881-1968) and her husband, Adolph Sprekels (1857-1924). Adolph’s father founded Sprekels Sugar Company, which controlled most of the sugar market on the west coast of the United States. They commissioned the building of a replica of Paris’ Palais de la L├ęgion d’honneur, as the home for their museum. It seems to me that Adolph Sprekels was in competition with Michael De Young, another SF businessman, and publisher of  the San Francisco Chronicle, who founded an art museum in 1894. In 1884, Sprekels had shot de Young in retribution for writing an article that claimed Sprekels’ company was corrupt. Sprekels was found not guilty by reason of temporary insanity. I wonder how they both would have reacted if they knew that in 1972, their two museums would be joined together.

Alma Sprekels via San Francisco Public Library

Adoplh Sprekels By Unknown author - Press Reference Library (Southwest Edition):


The permanent collection contains many excellent works from around the world. The Sprekels’ Gallery is home to a collection of bronze statues made by Auguste Rodin.

The Thinker by Auguste Rodin

Rodin Statues in the Sprekel's Gallery


When the museums merged, the entire collection of classic European paintings were placed in the Legion of Honor.

Venice the Grand Canal by Canaletto

Saint Fancis Venerating the Crucifix by El Greco

The Annunciation by Fra. Filippo Lippi

On my visit, there was a special show of drawings and paintings by Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510). The drawings represented many studies that were created in preparation of creating some of his masterpiece paintings.

Head of a Man in Profile

Madonna of the Rose Garden

Study for Two Standing Figures

Battle of the Nudes by Antonio Banci

The Five Sybils

Study for te Minerva Pacifica

Study for The Annunciation

The Annunciation

A visit to the Legion of Honor offers great art and great views of the golden Gate. Stop by when you are in town. 



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