San Francisco 1915 Palace Of Fine Arts

1406 words - 6 pages

San Francisco 1915 - Palace of Fine Arts

The Palace of Fine Arts was one of the finest buildings constructed for the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. It was one of the most important symbols of the fair, situated near its center, at the end of the axis on which were located the Courts of the Four Seasons and of the Universe at the center, and the Court of Abundance, with the Machinery Palace framing the other side.

The Palace was designed by a well known local architect, Bernard Maybeck (b. New York, New York 1882; d. Berkeley, California 1957) who studied architecture at the Paris Ecole des Beaux Arts. Maybeck then moved to San Francisco, joined the firm of A. Page Brown, and established a private practice in 1894. Maybeck practiced in many styles, some of which he developed from local Californian forms. He also believed in originality for solving architectural problems, and he did just that in designing the Palace. The Palace was hailed as the most original design of the exposition. Although he used many elements from Greek and Roman antiquity, Maybeck did not simply follow customary forms, like other architects who tried to emulate classicism. The Palace was meant to represent a decaying Roman ruins. In the words of Maybeck, the building gave a sense of "sadness modified by the feeling that beauty has a soothing influence. (Maybeck, 3)"

The Palace of Fine Arts was built around a small artificial lagoon, as can be seen from the first image, a colored photograph from Colortypes of the Panama Pacific International Exposition at San Francisco 1915 (4 in. x 6 in.). It is composed of a wide, 1100 foot pergola, an arch formed by rows of Corinthian columns framing a wide walkway, around a central rotunda situated by the water. In the background behind the colonnades were fire proof art galleries with 113 rooms, exhibiting art, mainly paintings by various local and foreign artists. The center of the arch was placed behind the rotunda, so that the two were not aligned in concentric rings. This allowed a wider arch to be built in the same space, giving it a grander appearance.

The pergola can be more closely seen in the next image, reprinted from the same source and measuring 4 by 6 inches, as well as in the third and fourth images, which are photographs from Souvenir Views of the Panama Pacific International Exposition San Francisco California 1915 (7 in. x 11 in.) There were ochre columns, topped by boxes, mixed with pale green ones. The boxes were originally meant to house small trees and hanging vines, but these were not planted for budgetary reasons. At each corner of the boxes stood statues of women looking inwards, sculpted by Ulric Ellerhusen. They were meant to represent the melancholy of life without art. The colonnades stood along the side of the lagoon, as can be seen in the second image, with the reflection of the tranquil water adding a pleasant element.

Along the side of the walkway in the...

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