We just framed this wonderful and historic little gouache by Lucia Kleinhans Mathews which depicts Bernard Maybeck’s Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. This year is the centennial of San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific Exposition—the World’s Fair announcing The City’s comeback from the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906. The Palace of Fine Arts, which hosted the fine art galleries for the Fair, is the one of very few buildings that remain from the event—although the original plaster building disintegrated so badly in the decades after it was constructed that it had to be rebuilt in more permanent material to satisfy San Franciscans’ love for the place and desire to have it endure. Painting the Palace at night, with lights dancing around the building and off the lovely lagoon, trees and landscape which are so much a part of it, Mathews captures the spellbinding effect of a place that citizens and tourists alike still find magical. Mathews and Maybeck embodied the great hope that given The City’s special setting and location, San Francisco would become a place where the arts would thrive, not just for the this event but for generations. This tiny gem contains great dreams.
The frame is a No. 408—1″ in cherry with a deep red-brown stain. The mat has a gold ink line for definition and emphasis.
This piece is on view at the California Historical Society’s exhibit, “City Rising: San Francisco and the 1915 World’s Fair.”
More work by Lucia and her husband Arthur Mathews may be seen at the Oakland Museum (see collections online here).
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