People don’t come to San Francisco expecting to get a taste of Parisian architecture and culture, but that is exactly what some visitors may find. The Legion of Honor Fine Arts Museum is a three-quarter scale adaptation of the 18th-century Palais de La Legion d’Honneur in Paris. It was built to commemorate the soldiers of California who gave their lives fighting in World War I. Overlooking the mighty Pacific, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the skyline of San Francisco; the Legion is a stunning property that is considered one of, if not the most beautiful building in the city.
The Legion of Honor is home to over 4,000 years of ancient and European art, and houses the Achenback Foundation for Graphic Arts. On display in the collection are the works of such greats as El Greco, Peter Paul Rubens, Auguste Rodin, Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn, Claude Monet, and Fra Angelica. The Thinker, one of Rodin’s best-known monuments, adorns the outdoor Court of Honor at the Legion. The museum houses a stunning permanent collection of European Paintings, European Decorative Art, Ancient Art, Works on Paper, and Photography. In addition to its priceless mainstays, the Legion of Honor also rotates world-famous pieces through its halls in temporary exhibits. Here is a sample of the exhibits one can expect to find within the walls of this prestigious and palatial building (check Legion of Honor’s website for up-to-date information at the time of your visit):
Marvelous Menagerie: A Roman Mosaic from Lod Israel: Behold this intricately-created and detailed mosaic floor, unearthed from ancient Disopolis in Israel. The mosaic is believed to have belonged to a wealthy Roman and is dated to about AD 300. This mosaic will soon be returned to Israel, and the Legion is only one of four museums ever to have displayed it.
Pisarro’s People: This exhibit explores Camille Pissarro’s lifelong interest in the human figure, from his earliest years in the Caribbean and Venezuela until his death in France in 1903. Highlights of the collection include portraits of his friends and family, as well as genre scenes set in the fields and markets of France, which stress the individuality of the peasant workers and townspeople of the countryside, rather than their mythic qualities which are often portrayed by other artists.
Dutch and Flemish Masterworks from the Rose Marie and Eijk van Oterloo Collection (additional fee required): This is one of the finest collections of Dutch Old Masters in existence. Privately-owned, this selection includes meticulous portraits and still lifes, as well as landscapes and scenes that chronicle life in 17th century Holland. The Oterloo collection features the works of Rembrandt, Frans Hals and Hendrick Avercamp.
The Legion of Honor Fine Art Museum also houses a café which features a variety of American and European classic menu items brought to you by McCall Associates. Visitors may also be interested in visiting the Legion of Honor Museum Store, which boasts a distinguished variety of art history books, home décor items, classic jewelry and fine art gifts that mirror the works inside the museum.
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Comments about Smart Destinations Legion of Honor:
This museum is not in the center of city but that is what makes the experience even more enjoyable. Excellent collection, glad I did not pass this over. Can take the city bus but also a taxi which is not expensive from Fishermans' Wharf .
Phone: (415) 750-3600
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