Wednesday, May 23, 2012


My husband, Darrell, and I don't normally exchange presents for birthdays and other celebrations.  We try to do events instead.  This year for my birthday we went  a little overboard and flew to San Francisco for the day to see an exhibit at the Legion of Honor that sounded very interesting: The Cult of Beauty.  

The Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco

John Spencer Stanhope, Love and the Maiden, 1877.  This is my favorite.  The gold-leaf was amazing!

The exhibit is about the Aesthetic Movement 1860-1900, a reaction of the Industrial Revolution and the Victorian Era.  I was amazed at how 'modern' some of the objects were, I would have placed them in the later Art Deco era.
We stopped in front of this sideboard for a while and discussed the design.

Edward William Godwin, Sideboard, 1865-75, ebonized mahogany, silver, leather.

It was very nice to see so many pieces of furniture.  Darrell found a few of them quite interesting.  He dared to take a picture of one of them and was immediately chastised by a docent.  (He did get the image though). I, however, used my phone camera and got quite a few pictures taken without notice.  We were listening to the audio tour, and my phone looks a little like that device.  So, it was easier to go unnoticed.

Chair by Philip Webb and William Morris 1860 
Darrell in front of his favorite of the show, Laus  Veneris by Edward Burne-Jones 1873-8.  He stated that the colors were the perfect shades of each  hue.  Something you cannot see in reproductions.

Darrell and I in the convex mirror that was on a fireplace mantel.

The Day Dream by Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1880 

Lawrence Alma-Tadema, couch, 1893 mahogany, leather, silk

James McNeill Whistler, Nocture: Old Battersea Bridge, 1872-5

There were several paintings by Whistler.  I was very intriqued and now need to read more about him and his paintings.  He uses a very limited palette of muted earthy colors.  I thought it odd that they included him in this show, which seemed to stress the opulent and rich colors used by the other artists.

Whistler's Harmony in Grey and Green, 1872-4

It was a large show, very well organized, on two floors.  There are plenty of things to see other than paintings and furniture.  There was plenty of household goods, decorative objects and even a few interesting pieces of clothing.  I'm usually don't pay much attention to those type of objects, centering my attention mostly on the paintings.  But, I was fascinated see things from this era.  It seemed to bring things more to life.  I've been enjoying these types of paintings for a long time.  And here, were the very clothing the models wore in them.  The photographs were very fascinating, too, showing the models in real life.  

Overall, we were thrilled to be able to see paintings that normally live so far away.  It was a chance to see and enjoy them in person, which we probably wouldn't have otherwise been able to do.  And a great reason to visit one of our favorite cities, San Francisco.

After a quick lunch at the museum, we headed to Golden Gate Park, a place we have never explored before.  By this time the weather had cleared up, turning it into a perfect day, sunny, 65 with a nice sea breeze.  

First stop was the Dutch Windmill and the far west end of the park.  It was very impressive.  It is very big, the dome looks to be metal (copper?) shingles, and able to turn 360 degrees.  Darrell was busy taking pictures while I was looking at birds with my binoculars.

We made our way through the park, stopping occasionally to look at birds and other things.  We parked near the Conservatory of Flowers (we didn't go in, we are saving that for our next trip) and walked along the paths, looking at birds and enjoying the smell of eucalyptus.  There were hundreds of Hummingbirds buzzing about, Dark-eyed Juncos  playing games, a stunning Red-tailed Hawk just hovering in the wind high above.  I think I saw a Black Phoebe, but couldn't make a positive identification. The Nasturtiums grew wild everywhere, with beautiful color variations of the flowers.

Conservatory of Flowers

Eventually leaving the park, we walked over to Haight/Ashbury, stopping to buy the obligatory t-shirt and take our pictures at the intersection.

Next time, we'll have to bring or rent bikes and spend a whole day in the park.   What a treasure.

We love San Francisco and really enjoy visiting.  It was a great day.

Monday, May 21, 2012