The California Palace of the Legion of Honor or simply called by San Franciscans as Legion of Honor is one of the two museums that make the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco together with the de Young Museum. It was a present from Alma de Bretteville Spreckels who was the wife of sugar tycoon and popular racehorse breeder Adolph Spreckels. The structure is actually a 3:45 replica of the Palais de la Legion d?Honeur in Paris which was designed by H. Guillaume and George Applegarth. Construction of the Legion of Honor was finished in 1924.
The California Place of the Legion of Honor is situated in an elevated area in Lincoln Park with a fantastic view overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. It is a neoclassical building and is really a sight to behold. The museum boasts of a grand plaza with a fountain as equally impressive and is the west end point of the Lincoln Highway which was the pioneering road across America. There is a plaque that is installed to mark this area.
In terms of the collection it houses, the art pieces found here covers over 6,000 years of art pieces hailing from the ancient world and Europe. Its Ancient Art collection has served a central role in the museum since it was established. The first ancient pieces found here were provided by the museum?s founders Alma Speckels and M.H. de Young and reflect the ancient art world of the Mediterranean basin including pieces that came from Rome, Etruria, the Aegean Islands and Egypt. The most antiquated objects here date back from 400 B.C. and reaching up to the 14th century A.D. While the size of the collection is considered relatively small, it includes uncommon objects which represent an important facet of the cultures of their origin.
The California Palace of the Legion of Honor also holds an impressive collection of European art majority of which are French. One of the highlights of this European art collection are sculptures made by Auguste Rodin including a version of The Thinker which is exhibited in the museum?s Court of Honor. There are also several works from other acclaimed artists including El Greco and the impressionists and post-impressionists Degas and Cezanne as well as gurus from the 20th century such as Picasso and Braque.
Another main attraction in the Legion of Honor is the symphonic organ which John Spreckels commissioned the Ernest M. Skinner Company to create. The symphonic organ has a total of 4,526 pipes and the sound it produces are very different that it can equate to 10 different wind instruments.
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