Part 2 out of 3
here's Mother Nature. She can do better.' "
To our right stood Alcatraz, shaped like a battleship, with the Berkeley
hills in the distant background. To the left rose Tamalpais in a
When I mentioned that there ought to be more boats out there on the bay,
a whole fleet, and some of them with colored sails, to give more
brightness, the architect shook his head.
"The scene is typically Californian. It suggests great stretches of
vacant country here in this State, waiting for the people to come from
the overcrowded East and Middle West and thrive on the land."
Our point of view on the Esplanade enabled us to take in the sweep of
the northern wall, with its straight horizontal lines, broken by the
entrances to the courts and by the splendidly ornate doors in duplicate.
Of the design above the doorway the architect said: "It's a perfect
example of the silver-platter style of Spain, generally called
'plateresque,' adapted to the Exposition. Allen Newman's figure of the
Conquistador is full of spirit, and the bow-legged pirate is a triumph
of humorous characterization. Can't you see him walking the deck, with
the rope in his hand? It isn't so many generations since he used to
infest the Pacific. By the way, that rope, which the sculptor has made
so realistic and picturesque at the same time, reminds me that a good
many people are bothered because the bow up here, on the Column of
Progress, has no string. The artistic folk, of course, think that the
string ought to be left to the imagination."
In the distance, to the west, we commented on the noble outlines of the
California Building, an idealized type of Mission architecture, a little
too severe, perhaps, lacking in variety and warmth, but of an impressive
dignity. The old friars, for all their asceticism, liked gaiety and
color in their building.
As we were about to start back to the Court of the Universe the
architect reminded me of the two magnificent towers, dedicated to Balboa
and Columbus, that had been planned for the approach to the Court of
Four Seasons and the Court of Ages from the bay side, but had been
omitted to save expense. They would have given the Marina a far greater
splendor; but they would have detracted from its present simplicity.
Toward the Court of Four Seasons
"There are critics," I remarked, as we walked back to the Court of the
Universe, on the way to the Court of Four Seasons, "who say that the
entrance courts ought to have been placed on the other side that the
Exposition ought to have been turned round."
"They don't understand the conditions that the architects had to meet.
That plan was considered; but when it was pointed out that the strongest
winds here blow from the south and southwest, it was seen that it would
not be feasible. Besides, the present arrangement has the advantage of
leading the people directly to one of the most beautiful bays in the
world. The only bays at all like it that I know anything about are the
Bay of Palermo and the Bay of Naples. The view of the Exposition from
the water is wonderfully fine. It brings out the charm of the straight
lines. All things considered, the architects did an uncommonly fine job
in making the courts run from the Esplanade."
Under the star figures, among the sculptured flowers' surrounding the
head of the sacred bull, birds were nestling. We wondered if those birds
were really fooled by those flowers or whether, in these niches, they
merely found a comfortable place to rest. "There's an intimate relation,
by the way, between birds and architecture. It's said that the first
architectural work done in the world consisted in the making of a bird's
nest. Some critics think that architecture had its start in the making
of a bird's nest. Have you ever watched birds at work on their nests? If
you have, you must know that they go about the job like artists. In our
profession we like to insist, you know, that there's a big difference
between architecture and mere building. In its truest sense architecture
is building with a fine motive. It's the artistic printing press of all
ages, the noblest of the fine arts and the finest of the useful arts. I
know, of course," the architect went on, "that there's another tradition
not quite so flattering. It makes the architect merely the worker in the
rough, with the artistic finish left to the sculptors. But the outline
is nevertheless the architect's, the structure, which is the basis of
beauty. Even now a good many of the great French buildings are roughed
out in this way, and finished by the sculptors and the decorators."
Under the western arch, leading to the inner court that united the Court
of the Universe with the Court of the Four Seasons, we found the two
panels by Frank Vincent Du Mond. Their simple story they told plainly
enough, the departure of the pioneers from the Atlantic border for the
Far West on the Pacific. In the panel to the right we saw the older
generation saying farewell to the younger, and on the other side we saw
the travelers arriving in California and finding a royal welcome from
the Westerners in a scene of typical abundance, even the California bear
showing himself in amiable mood. "That bear bothered Du Mond a good
deal. He wasn't used to painting bears. It isn't nearly as life-like as
those human figures."
What I liked best about the murals was their splendor of coloring, and
their pictorial suggestiveness and vigor of characterization. Perhaps
there was a little too much effort on the part of the painter to suggest
animation. But why, I asked, had Du Mond made most of the faces so
My question was received with an exclamation of surprise. Yes, the
strong Jewish types of features were certainly repeated again and again.
Perhaps Du Mond happened to use Jewish models. It hardly seemed possible
that the effect could have been intentional.
When I pointed to one of the figures, a youth holding out a long bare
arm, and remarked that I had never seen an arm of such length, my
criticism brought out an unsuspected principle of art. "The Cubists
would say that you were altogether too literal. They are making us all
understand that what art ought to do is to express not what we merely
see with our eyes, but what we feel. If by lengthening that arm, the
painter gets an effect that he wants, he's justified in refusing to be
bound by the mathematical facts of nature. Art is not a matter of strict
calculation, that is, art at its best and its purest. It's a matter of
spiritual perception. All the resources of the artist ought to be bent
toward expressing a spiritual idea and making it alive and beautiful
through outline and color."
"But how about the mixture of allegory and realism that we see in these
murals and in so much of the art here? Don't you find it disturbing?"
"Not at all. There's no reason in the world why the allegorical and the
real should not go together, provided, of course, they don't grossly
conflict and become absurd. What the artist is always working for is the
effect of beauty. If a picture is beautiful, no matter how the beauty is
achieved, it deserves recognition as a work of art. In these murals Du
Mond has tried to reach as closely as he could to nature without being
too literal and without sacrificing artistic effect. He has even
introduced among his figures some well-known Californians, a Bret Harte,
in the gown of the scholar, and William Keith, carrying a portfolio to
suggest his painting."
In that inner court we noticed how cleverly Faville had subordinated the
architecture so that it should modestly connect the great central
courts. McLaren was keeping it glowing on either side with the most
brilliant California flowers. The ornamental columns, the Spanish
doorways, and the great windows of simple and yet graceful design were
all harmonious, and Guerin and Ryan had helped out with the coloring.
The Court of the Four Seasons
As we entered the Court of the Four Seasons the architect said: "If I
were to send a student of architecture to this Exposition, I should
advise him to spend most of his time here. Of all the courts, it
expresses for me the best architectural traditions. Henry Bacon frankly
took Hadrian's Villa for his model, and he succeeded in keeping every
feature classic. That half dome is an excellent example of a style
cultivated by the Romans. The four niches with the groups of the
seasons, by Piccirilli, screened behind the double columns, come from a
detail in the baths of Caracalla. The Romans liked to glimpse scenes or
statuary through columns. Guerin has applied a rich coloring, his
favorite pink, and McLaren has added a poetic touch by letting garlands
of the African dew plant, that he made his hedge of, flow over from the
top. See how Bacon has used the bull's head between the flowers in the
ornamentation, one of the most popular of the Renaissance motives. And
he has introduced an original detail by letting ears of corn hang from
the top of the columns. Those bulls up there, with the two figures,
carry the mind back to the days when the Romans made a sacrifice of the
sacred bull in the harvest festivals. This Thanksgiving of theirs they
called 'The Feast of the Sacrifice.' "
Crowning the half dome sat the lovely figure of Nature, laden with
fruits, by Albert Jaegers. On the columns at either side stood two other
figures by Jaegers, "Rain," holding out a shell to catch the drops, and
"Sunshine," with a palm branch close to her eyes. At each base the
figures of the harvesters carried out the agricultural idea with
elemental simplicity in friezes that recalled the friezes on the
Parthenon. Here, on each side of the half-dome, we have a good example
of the composite column, a combination of the Corinthian and the Ionic,
with the Ionic scrolls and the acanthus underneath, and with little
human figures between the two.
What we liked best about this court was its feeling of intimacy. One
could find refreshment here and rest. Much was due to the graceful
planting by John McLaren. His masses of deep green around the emerald
pool in the center were particularly successful. He had used many kinds
of trees, including the olive, the acacia, the eucalyptus, the cypress,
and the English laurel.
We lingered in front of these fountains, admiring the classic grace of
the groups and the play of water over the steps. We thought that
Piccirilli had been most successful with his "Spring." "Of course, it's
very conventional work," said the architect, "but the conventional has
its place here. It explains just why Milton Bancroft worked out those
murals of his in this particular way. He wanted to express the elemental
attitude of mind toward nature, the artistic childhood of the race."
When we examined the figures of the Piccirilli groups in detail, we
found that they possessed excellent qualities. They carried on the
traditions of the wall-fountains so popular in Rome and often associated
with water running over steps. The figures were well put together and
the lines were good. All of the groups had the surface as carefully
worked out. In "Spring" the line of festooning helped to carry on the
line leading to the top of the group. There was tender feeling and fine
workmanship in "Summer," with the feminine and masculine hands clearly
differentiated. "The men of today have a chance to learn a good lesson
from Rodin," said the painter. "He is teaching them what he himself may
have learned from the work of Donatello and Michael Angelo, the
importance of surface accentuation, the securing of the light and shade
that are just as necessary in modelling as in painting. In these groups
there is definite accentuation of the muscles. It makes the figures seem
life-like. The work reminds me of the figure of The Outcast, by the
sculpter's brother, Attilio Piccirilli, that we shall see in the
colonade of the Fine Arts Palace. So many sculptors like to secure these
smooth, meaningless surfaces that excite admiration among those people
who care for mere prettiness. It is just about as admirable as the
smoothing out of character lines from a photograph. But the Piccirillis
go at their work like genuine artists."
Those murals we were inclined to regard as somewhat too simple and
formal. "After all," said the architect, "it's a question whether this
kind of effort is in the right direction. So often it leads to what
seems like acting in art, regarded by some people as insincerity. At any
rate, the best that can be said of it is that it's clever imitation. But
here it blends in with the feeling of the court and it gives bright
spots of color. Guerin has gone as close to white as he dared. So he
felt the need of strong color contrasts, and he got Bancroft to supply
them. And the colors are repeated in the the other decorations of the
court. It's as if the painter had been given a definite number of colors
to work with. In this matter of color, by the way, Bancroft had a big
advantage over the old Roman painters. Their colors were very
restricted. In this court they might have allowed more space for the
murals. They're not only limited in size, but in shape as well. Bancroft
used to call them his postage-stamps.
In the entrance court we found Evelyn Breatrice Longman's "Fountain of
Ceres," the last of the three fountains done on the grounds by women,
and decidedly the most feminine. "Mrs. Longman hasn't quite caught the
true note," the architect remarked. "The base of the fountain is
interesting, though I don't care for the shape. But the figure itself is
too prim and modish. Somehow I can't think of Ceres as a proper old
maid, dressed with modern frills. The execution, however, shows a good
deal of skill. The frieze might be improved by the softening of those
sharp lines that cut out the figures like pasteboard. And these women
haven't as much vitality as that grotesque head down near the base,
spouting out water." The architect glanced up and noticed the figure of
"Victory" on one of the gables, so often to be seen during a walk over
the grounds. "There's more swing to that figure than to the one here,
and yet there's a certain resemblance between them. They both show the
same influence, the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Of course, Miss
Longman has purposely softened the effect on account of the mildness of
her subject. But she might have been more successful with her draperies
if she had followed the suggestions in the Winged Victory more closely.
There the treatment of the draperies is magnificent. Both the Greeks and
the Romans were very fond of this type of figure. And it's often found
among the ruins of Pompeii, which kept so close to Rome in its artistic
The need of separating the entrance to the Court of the Four Seasons
from Ryan's display of scintillators on the imitation of Morro Castle at
the edge of the bay, had given John McLaren a chance to create another
of these deep green masses that surrounded the pool. It shut the court
off from the rest of the world and deepened the intimacy, leaving,
however, glimpses of the bay and the hills beyond.
The Palace of Fine Arts From Across the Lagoon
In returning to the Court of the Four Seasons, we started along another
of those inner courts, made charming by those Spanish doorways and by
the twisted columns, a favorite of the Romans, evidently borrowed from
the Orientals. "All through the Exposition," the architect remarked, "we
are reminded of the Oriental fondness for the serpent. Some people like
to say that it betrays the subtlety and slyness of the Oriental people.
But they admired the serpent chiefly because, in their minds, it
represented wisdom, the quiet and easy way of doing things, a little
roundabout perhaps, but often better than the method of opposition and
Before us, looking down as if from an eminence, stood, the Palace of
Fine Arts. The architect reminded me of the clever planning that had
placed this magnificent conception in so commanding a position, looking
down into the courts, on what he called "the main axis."
"It's the vision of a painter who is also a poet, worked out in terms of
architecture. Maybeck planned it all, even to the details. He wanted to
suggest a splendid ruin, suddenly come upon by travelers, after a long
journey in a desert. He has invested the whole place with an atmosphere
of tragedy. It's Roman in feeling and Greek in the refinement of its
ornamentation. That rotunda reminds one of the Pantheon in Rome. Those
Corinthian columns, with the melancholy drooping of the acanthus and the
fretwork and the frieze, by Zimm, are suggestive of Greece. Maybeck says
that his mind was started on the conception, 'The Island of Death,' by
Boecklin, the painting that the German people know so well as the
'Todteninsel,' and by 'The Chariot Race,' of Gerome."
The architect went on to say that the resemblance was remote and chiefly
interesting as showing how a great artist could carry a suggestion into
an entirely new realm. The Boecklin painting merely suggested the
general scope of the work, and the chariot race gave the hint for that
colonnade, which Maybeck had made so original and graceful by the use of
the urns on top of groups of columns with the figure of a woman at each
corner. He had used that somewhat eccentric scheme on account of its
pictorial charm. All through the construction Maybeck had defied the
architectural conventions; but he had been justified by his success.
My attention was directed to a group of columns at the end of the
colonnade. "There's just a hint of the Roman Forum over there. Perhaps
it's accidental. Perhaps it's developed from a picture way down in
Maybeck's consciousness. However, the idea of putting two columns
together in just that way comes from the French Renaissance. The great
French architect, Perrault, used it in the Louvre. In the competition he
won out over Bernini, who is living again in the Court of the Universe.
It gives great architectural richness."
People had wondered what McLaren had meant to indicate by the high
hedges he had made over there with his dew plant. He had merely carried
out the designs put into his hands. Maybeck had intended the hedge to be
used as a background for willow trees that were to run up as high as the
frieze, in this way gaining depth. Through those trees the rotunda was
to be glimpsed. Willow trees, with overhanging boughs, were also to be
planted along the edge of the lagoon, the water running under the leaves
In the lagoon swans were swimming and arching their long necks. "The old
Greeks and Romans would have loved this scene, though they would, of
course, have found alien influences here," said the architect. "They
would have enjoyed the sequestration of the Palace, its being set apart,
giving the impression of loneliness. The architects were shrewd in
making the approach long and circuitous."
"They might have done more with the water that was here before they
filled in," I said. "It offered fine chances."
"Yes, and they thought of them and some ambitious plans were discussed.
But the expense was found to be prohibitive."
At that moment a guard, in his yellow uniform with brass buttons, came
forward with a questioning lady at his side. They stood so close to us
that we could not help hearing their talk.
"What are those women doing up there?"
The guard looked at the urns, surmounting the columns. "They're supposed
to be crying," he said.
"What are they crying about?"
The guard looked a little embarrassed. "They are crying over the sadness
of art," he said. Then he added somewhat apologetically, "Anyway, that's
what the lecturer told us to say."
The lady appealed to us for information. "What this gentleman says is
true," remarked the authority at my side. "The architect intended that
those figures should express something of the sadness of life as
reflected in art."
"Oh," said the lady, as if she only half understood.
Then she and the guard drifted away.
"Those people have unconsciously given us a bit of art criticism,
haven't they? One of the most pictorial notes in this composition of
Maybeck's is the use of these figures. But it's also eccentric and it
puzzles the average looker-on who is always searching after meanings,
according to the literary habit of the day, the result of universal
reading. Perhaps the effect would have been, less bewildering if those
urns were filled with flowers as Maybeck intended they should be. Then
the women would have seemed to be bending over the flowers. The little
doors were put into the urns so that the man in charge of the flowers
could reach up to them. But this item of expense was included among
The coloring of the columns had been a subject of some criticism. The
ochre columns were generally admired; but the green columns were
considered too atmospheric to give the sense of support. And that
imitation of green marble directly under the Pegasus frieze of Zimm's,
near the top, had been found to bear a certain resemblance to linoleum.
But in applying, the colors Guerin had worked with deliberate purpose.
The green under the frieze was really a good imitation of marble, and
the shade used on the column suggested the weather-beaten effect
associated with age.
"There are columns that, in my opinion, have more beauty than those
Maybeck used. But that's a matter of taste. In themselves those columns
are fine and they blend into impressive masses. That altar under the
dome, with the kneeling figure, only a great artist could have conceived
in just that way. Ralph Stackpole, the sculptor of the figure, worked it
out in perfect harmony with Maybeck's idea. To appreciate his skill one
ought to get close and see how roughly it has been modeled in order that
the lines should be clear and yet give an effect of delicacy across the
lagoon. And those trees along the edge of the lagoon, how gracefully
they are planted, in the true Greek spirit. The lines in front of the
rotunda are all good, as they run down to the water's edge. And how
richly McLaren has planted the lagoon. He has given just the luxuriance
that Maybeck wanted."
The Western Wall
We turned to get the effect of the western wall looking out on this
magnificence. "Faville has done some of his finest work there. All over
the Exposition he has expressed himself; but as his name is not
connected with one of the great courts we don't hear it very much. When
he tackled the Western Wall he had one of the hardest of his problems.
There was a big expanse to be made interesting and impressive, without
the aid of towers or courts. It was a brilliant idea to break the
monotony with those two splendid Roman half-domes."
The figure of "Thought" on the columns in front of the Dome of Plenty
and repeated on the Dome of Philosophy started the architect talking on
the subject of character and art. "Only a sculptor with a very fine
nature could have done that fellow up there. In that design Stackpole
shows the qualities that he shows in the kneeling girl at the altar in
the rotunda across the lagoon and in his figure of the common laborer
and the little group of artisans and artists that we shall see on the
doorway of the Varied Industries. They include fineness and cleanness of
feeling, reverence and tenderness. This particular figure is one of
three figures on the grounds that stand for virtually the same subject,
Rodin's "Thinker," in the courtyard of the French Building, and Chester
Beach's "Thinker," in the niches to the west and east of the tower in
the Court of the Ages. They are all different in character. Stackpole's
gives the feeling of gentle contemplation. That man might be a poet or a
philosopher or an inventor; but a man of the kind of thought that leads
to action or great achievement in the world - never. You can't think of
him as competing with his whole heart and soul in order to get ahead of
other men. However, it would be an achievement just to be that type and
it's a good type to be held up to us for our admiration, better than the
conventional ideal of success embodied in the Adventurous Bowman, for
The proportions of the domes we could see at a glance had been well
worked out. Earl Cummings' figure of the Youth had a really youthful
quality; but there was some question in our minds as to the wisdom of
repeating the figure in a semi-circle. "After all," the architect
remarked, "in this country art owes some concession to habit of mind. We
are not trained to frankness in regard to nudity. On the contrary, all
our conventions are against it. But our artists, through their special
professional training, learn to despise many of our conventions and they
like to ignore them or frankly show their contempt for them."
That elaborate Sienna fountain was well adapted to the Dome of Plenty,
though it was by no means a fine example of Italian work, with its
design built up tier on tier. "It's the natural expression of a single
idea that leads to beauty, isn't it? The instant there's a betrayal of
effort, the charm begins to fade."
There was no criticism to be made, however, of the Italian fountain in
the Dome of Philosophy, the simplest of all the fountains, and one of
the most beautiful, the water flowing over the circular bowl from all
sides. "It makes water the chief feature," said the architect
approvingly, "which is the best any fountain can do. Is there anything
in art that can compare for beauty with running water? This fountain
comes from Italy and these female figures, above the doorway, with books
in their arms, are by one of the most interesting of the sculptors
represented here, Albert Weinert. We'll see more work of his when we get
to the Court of Abundance."
At sight of the curious groups in the niches I expressed a certain
disappointment. It seemed to me that, in the midst of so much real
beauty, they were out of key. But the architect had another point of
view. "They are worth while because they're different," he said. "They
ought not to be considered merely as ornaments. They have an
archaeological interest. They are related to those interesting studies
that Albert Durer used to make, and they are full of symbolism. When
Charles Harley made them he knew just what he was doing. The male figure
in 'The Triumph of the Fields' takes us back to the time when harvesting
was associated with pagan rites. The Celtic cross and the standard with
the bull on top used to be carried through the field in harvest time.
The bull celebrates the animal that has aided man in gathering the
crops. The wain represents the old harvest wagon. That head down there
typifies the seed of the earth, symbol of the life that comes up in the
barley that is indicated there, bringing food to mankind. The woman's
figure, unfortunately, is too small for the niche, 'Abundance.' The horn
of plenty on either side indicates her character. She's reaching out her
hands to suggest her prodigality. The head of the eagle on the prow of
the ship where she is sitting, gives the idea an American application,
suggesting our natural prosperity and our reason for keeping ahead in
the march of progress. In one sense, those figures represent a
reactionary kind of sculpture. Nowadays the sculptors, like the
painters, are trying to get away from literal interpretations. They
don't want to appeal to the mind so much as to the emotions."
The Palace of Fine Arts at Close Range
The path leading to the northern end of the colonnade attracted us. It
brought us to the beautiful little grove of Monterey cypress that
McLaren had saved from the old Harbor View restaurant, for so many years
one of the most curious and picturesque of the San Francisco resorts,
one of the few on the bay-side. Though the architect frankly admired
Paul Bartlett's realistic "Wounded Lion," the pieces of sculpture set
out on the grass bothered him somewhat. He couldn't find any
justification for their being there. He wanted them, as he said, in a
setting. "I think I can see what the purpose was in putting them here,
to provide decoration that would be unobtrusive. But some of these
pieces, like Bartlett's, stand out conspicuously and deserve to be
treated with more consideration. Besides, there's always danger of
weakening a glorious conception like Maybeck's by putting too many
things into it, creating an artistic confusion."
We began to see how the colonnade in Gerome's painting had worked its
influence. It was easy to imagine two chariots tearing along here,
between the columns, after the ancient fashion. And those bushes, to the
right, rising on the lower wall, between the vases, surely had the
character of over-growth. They carried out Maybeck's idea of an
The architect pointed to the top of the wall: "The little roof-garden on
the edge of the upper wall gives the Egyptian note in the architecture
that many people have felt and it is emphasized by the deep red that
Guerin has applied, the shade that's often found in Egyptian ruins."
Above the main entrance of the palace we saw Lentelli's "Aspiration,"
that had been the cause of so much criticism and humorous comment during
the first few weeks of the Exposition. "Lentelli had a hard time with
that figure. It drove him almost to distraction. Perhaps a genius might
have solved the problem of making the figure seem to float; but I doubt
if it could have been solved by anyone. The foot-rest they finally
decided to put under it didn't help the situation much."
Directly in front of "Aspiration," on its high pedestal, stood Charles
Grafly's monumental statue of "The Pioneer Mother." "I suppose the
obvious in sculpture has its place," the architect remarked, "and this
group will appeal to popular sentiment. Its chief value lies in its
celebrating a type of woman that deserves much more recognition than she
has received in the past. Most of the glory of the pioneer days has gone
to the men. The women, however, in the background, had to share in the
hardships and often did a large part of the work. It's a question in my
mind whether this woman quite represents the vigorous type that came
over the plains in the prairie schooner. However, just as she is, she is
fine, and she has a strong hand that looks as if it had been made for
spanking. I wonder why the sculptor gave her that kind of head-covering.
She might have appeared to better advantage bare-headed. The children
are excellent. Observe the bright outlook of the boy and the timid
attitude of the girl. There's a fine tenderness in the care the girl is
getting from her mother and from the boy, too, suggesting dawning
manhood. Altogether, the group has nobility and it's worthy of being a
permanent monument for San Francisco. By the way, there's the old Roman
idea of the decorative use of the bull's head again, at the base of the
group. It has a very happy application here. It reminds us of the oxen
that helped to get the Easterners out to California in the old days
before the railroads. A good many of them must have dropped in their
tracks and left their skulls to bleach in the sun."
The other ornamental design we found very appropriate and direct, as we
studied the pedestal. There was the ship that used to go round the horn,
with the torches that suggested civilization, and, at the back of the
pedestal, the flaming sun that celebrated the Golden Gate.
In the rotunda we found Paul Bartlett, represented again by the
equestrian statue of Lafayette, in full uniform, advancing sword in the
air. It unquestionably had a magnificent setting, though it suffered by
being surrounded by so many disturbing interests. "The director of the
Fine Arts Department cared enough about this figure to have it
duplicated for the Exposition. It's a good example of the old-fashioned
heroic sculpture, where the subjects take conventional dramatic
The ceiling of the rotunda displayed those much-discussed murals by
Robert Reid. Up there they seemed like pale reflections. "You should
have seen them when they were in Machinery Hall. Then they were
magnificent. But the instant they were put in place it was plain that
the effect had been miscalculated. At night, under the lighting, they
show up better. Judged by themselves, apart from their surroundings,
they are full of inspiration and poetry. Only a man of genuine feeling
and with a fine color-sense could have done them. But in all this
splendor of architecture they are lost."
On examining them in detail we found that they covered an
extraordinarily wide range of fancy, graceful and dramatic, even while,
save in one panel, they showed an indifference to story-telling. One
group celebrated "The Birth of European Art," with the altar and the
sacred flame, tended by a female guardian and three helpers, and with a
messenger reaching from his chariot to seize the torch of inspiration
and to bear it in triumph through the world, the future intimated by the
crystal held in the hands of the woman at the left. Another, "The Birth
of Oriental Art," told the ancient legend of a Chinese warrior who,
seated on the back of a dragon, gave battle to an eagle, the symbol
relating to man's seeking inspiration from the air. "Ideals in Art"
brought forward more or less familiar types: the Madonna and the Child,
Joan of Arc, Youth and Beauty, in the figure of a girl, Vanity in the
Peacock, with more shadowy intimations in two mystical figures in the
background, the tender of the sacred flame and the bearer of the palm
for the dead, and the laurel-bearer ready to crown victory. "The
Inspiration in All Art" revealed the figures of Music, Architecture,
Painting, Poetry and Sculpture. Four other panels glorified the four
golds of California, gold, wheat, poppies and oranges, a happy idea,
providing opportunities for the splendid use of color.
"It's a pity those murals couldn't have been tried out up there and then
taken down and done over," said the architect. "But sometime they will
find the place where they belong, perhaps in one of our San Francisco
public buildings. They're too good not to have the right kind of
"The Priestess of Culture," by Herbert Adams, one of the best-known of
American sculptors, eight times repeated, we felt, had its rightful
place up there and blended into the general architectural scheme. But
some of the other pieces of statuary might have been left out with
Through the columns we caught many beautiful vistas. And those groups of
columns themselves made pictures. "What is most surprising about this
palace is the way it grows on you. The more familiar you are with it the
more you feel the charm. Maybeck advises his friends to come here by
moonlight when they can get just the effect he intended. In all the
Exposition there's no other spot quite so romantic. It might have been
built for lovers."
At the Palace of Horticulture
At the Palace of Horticulture the architect said: "Here is the Mosque of
Ahmed the First, taken from Constantinople and adapted to horticulture
and to the Exposition. It has a distinct character of its own. It even
has temperament. So many buildings that are well proportioned give the
impression of being stodgy and dull. They are like the people that make
goodness seem uninteresting. But here is use that expresses itself in
beauty and adorns itself with appropriate decoration."
When I mentioned that some people found this building too ornate, the
"There's an intimate and appropriate relation between the ornament and
the architecture. Personally I shouldn't care to see just this kind of
building in the heart of the city, where you'd have it before your eyes
every day. But for the Exposition it's just right. And how fitting it is
that the splendid dome should be the chief feature of a building that is
really an indoor garden and that the most prominent note of the coloring
should be green, nature's favorite and most joyous color. Some joker,"
he went on, "says that this Exposition is domicidal. He expresses a
feeling a good many people have here, that there are too many domes. But
I don't agree. The domes make a charming pictorial effect, and they
harmonize with the general spirit of the architecture. And as for this
dome, it is one of the greatest in the world. See how cleverly the
architects, following the spirit of the French Renaissance, have used
those ornamental shafts. The only criticism that can be made on them is
that they serve no architectural purpose, which ought, of course, always
to be intimately associated with use. Instead of growing from the nature
of the building, they are put on from outside. Now, in the mosque they
were very important in their service. They were the minarets where the
Muezzins used to stand in order to call the faithful to prayer. Those
minarets up there, carrying on the dome motive, on the corners of the
walls of the main palaces are much closer to the old idea."
Our talk turned to the subject of domes in general. The idea had come
from the bees, from the shape of their hives. Prehistoric man used for a
dwelling-place a hut shaped like a hive, as well as an imitation of a
bird's nest. In formal architecture, the dome showed itself early. The
Greeks knew it; but they didn't use it much. The greatest users of the
dome were the Byzantines. It was all dome with them. The first important
dome was built in Rome in the second century, to crown the Pantheon. Of
all the domes in the world the most interesting historically was St.
Peter's, the work of several architects. It was the inspiration of the
dome of St. Paul's in London, built by the English architect, Sir
Christopher Wren. Architecturally the most interesting of the domes was
Brunelleschi's, built for the Florence Cathedral in the fifteenth
century, known throughout the world by the Italian name for Cathedral,
It was in connection with the Duomo that the architect reminded me of
the celebrated story about Brunelleschi. When the Florentine church
authorities decided to build the Duomo they were puzzled as to how so
mighty a dome should be developed. So they invited the architects to
appear before them in competition, and to present their ideas. One
architect, Donatello, explained that, if he secured the commission, he
should first build a mound of earth, and over it he would construct his
dome. But the authorities replied that there would be great labor and
expense in taking the earth out. He said that he would put coins into
the earth and, by this means, he would very quickly have the earth
removed by the people. When Brunelleschi was asked how he would build
his dome he said: "How would you make an egg stand on end?" They didn't
know how, and he showed them, by taking a hard-boiled egg and pressing
it down at one end, an idea like the one that occurred to Christopher
Columbus about fifty years later.
The Palace of Horticulture as an illustration of French Renaissance
architecture fascinated this observer, in spite of its
overelaborateness. "It's marvelous to think of what the Renaissance
meant throughout Europe," he said, "and how it showed itself in art
through the national characteristics. French Renaissance and Italian
Renaissance, though they have qualities in common, are very different.
And you'll find marked differences even in the Renaissance art of the
Italian cities, such as Rome and Florence and Venice. But the
Renaissance showed that no matter how far apart the people of Europe
might have been they were all stirred by a great intellectual and
spiritual movement. It was like a vast moral earthquake. It meant the
rediscovery and the joyous recognition of the relation of the past to
the present and the meaning of the relation for mankind. It led to a new
kind of self-emancipation and individualism. It created art-forms that
have stamped themselves on the work all over these grounds. In a sense
it was a declaration of artistic independence."
"Is there really such a thing as independence in art?" I ventured to
The architect began to smile. "I'm afraid there isn't much independence.
If there were this Exposition would not be quite so intimately related
to Europe and the Orient. But wait till we get into Mullgardt's Court of
the Ages. Then you'll find an answer to your question."
At this palace the architect found much to speculate on. "Here is one of
the few buildings in the whole Exposition done in what might be called
the conventional exposition spirit. I like it immensely as an exposition
building, but I should hate it as a public building that I had to see
every day. It's too fantastic. In this place it serves its purpose. But
it might fit into a setting like the Golden Gate Park, where it would be
close to nature. Now this Exposition is very different from most of the
enterprises of the kind that have taken place in Europe. It is probably
the most serious exposition ever known, with the possible exception of
the one in Chicago. If it were in a great European capital, for example,
it would mainly express the spirit of gaiety. But the builders here,
though they have been gay in their use of color, have been tremendously
serious in purpose. They have worked largely for the sake of education."
The use of green on the building was unquestionably one of the most
successful features of the coloring, particularly when it suggested, as
it so often did, old copper. "To me the deeper green that Guerin uses is
the more charming shade, far more charming, for instance, than the light
green applied to Festival Hall. And the suggestion of green in the dome
is altogether delightful. But it's a pity they didn't use another kind
of glass. When people criticise Ryan for not doing more with his
lighting effects-in this dome they evidently don't know that a mistake
was made when the glass was sent and Ryan could do very little with it.
In order to carry out his original plans Ryan would have to apply a coat
of varnish to the interior of the dome, a rather expensive process.
However, it may be done later."
Returning to the South Gardens
From where we stood we could get a good view of those green columns in
the Tower of Jewels, occasionally criticised as being too atmospheric to
give the sense of support. "Those columns were colored by Guerin to get
an effect of contrast. That shade was one of the first of the shades he
experimented with. He tried it out on the sashes in Machinery Hall. The
French landscape painters used it a good deal in outdoor scenes, on
trellises, for example. It made a pleasing effect against the deeper
tones of the grass and foliage. The notion that it isn't suited to
columns seems to me unwarranted. As a matter of fact, there are several
kinds of green stone that have often been successfully used for columns
in architecture, like malachite and Connemara marble. The Bank of
Montreal has some magnificent Connemara columns. Of course, the use up
there is theatrical, exactly as Guerin intended it to be. People seem to
forget that Guerin got his earlier training as a scene painter. He was
recognized as one of the greatest scene painters of his time. He
deliberately undertook to make this Exposition a great spectacle, and he
ought to be judged according to what he tried to do. It seems to me that
his success was astonishing. He created a picture that was spectacular
without being garish or cheap and that harmonized with the dignity and
the splendor of the architecture. One explanation of his success lies in
his being so fond of the Orient, where the architects have worked in
color as far back as we can go. Every chance he makes a trip to the
Orient and he comes back with a lot of Oriental canvases that he has
painted there. Only a lover of the Orient would have dared to put that
orange color on the domes. See what a velvety look he got, almost
wax-like. He was careful not to apply, in most instances, more than one
coat of paint. He wanted it to sink in and to become weathered. He knew
that nature was the greatest of all artists, always trying to remove the
shiny appearance of newness and to give seasoning."
As we looked up toward the center of the South Garden the white globes
on the French lamp posts caught the architect's eye. "Don't you remember
how cheap they looked on the first days?" he said. "The trouble was that
they were too white. They seemed cold and raw. So they were sprayed with
a liquid celluloid to soften them into their present ivory hue. The
change shows how important detail is, and how carefully Guerin's
department has worked. While the construction was going on there was one
remark that often used to be heard, 'It will never be noticed,' and a
most foolish remark it was. It showed that the people who made it were
lacking in imagination. Millions of eyes have been watching the details
of this Exposition and very little has escaped notice."
A great crowd was pouring out of the afternoon concert in Festival Hall.
The architect, as he looked on, remarked: "It's like being in Paris,
isn't it? Or, perhaps, it's more like being in a lovely old French
provincial city, where the theater is the chief architectural monument.
It's hard for me to understand why the French have encouraged that kind
of architecture for their theaters and opera houses. It seems so
unrelated to sound, which ought to give the clue to the building. The
use of the word festival here is a little old-fashioned and misleading.
It doesn't mean what we usually consider festivity. It is essentially a
concert hall, and the architecture ought to suggest concentration of
sound by being built in a way that shall make such concentration
inevitable. But this kind of building is obviously related to
dissipation of sound. No wonder the acoustics turned out bad and the
interior had to be remodeled."
The Half Courts
In front of the Court of Palms we stopped to admire James Earl Fraser's
"End of the Trail," the most popular group of sculpture in the
Exposition. "It deserves all its popularity, doesn't it? It's finely
imagined and splendidly worked out. The pony is excellent in its
modeling and the Indian is wonderfully life-like."
At our side a man and a woman were standing, the man more than six feet
tall, with broad shoulders and a face that had evidently seen a good
deal of weather. "I've known fellers just like that Indian," we heard
him say, "up in Minnesota. He might be a Blackfoot after a couple of
days' tusselling with the wind and the rain in the mountains. I've seen
'em come into town all beat out. The man that made that statue knew his
business. An' I guess he knew what he was doing when he called it 'The
End of the Trail."'
When the visitor had passed, the architect said: "The symbolism gets
them all, doesn't it; and the realism, too? But Fraser couldn't have
expressed so much if he hadn't put a lot of heart into his 'Work. He
really felt all that the Indian represented, as a human being and as a
representative of a dying race."
"The Court of Palms" captured us both, by its shape, by the splendor of
the Ionic columns, by the loveliness of its detail, by its coloring and
by that charm of its sunken garden. "You can feel here the mind that
developed those four Italian towers. It shows the same balanced
judgment, and skill and taste. The two towers here, though they stand at
either end of the court, and make a beautiful ornamentation, are really
a part of the wall. They help to give it dignity and variety. And how
artistically the palms have been used here. They can be among the least
graceful of plants; but here they are really decorative. And those
laurel trees at the side of the main doorway make fine ornamental notes.
The sculptured vases, too, are wonderfully graceful."
Above the doorways we found the three murals that gave further
distinction to this court and enriched the coloring. In "Fruits and
Flowers" Childe Hassam had done one of his purely decorative pictures,
without a story, contenting himself with graceful pictures and delicate
color scheme. Charles Holloway made "The Pursuit of Pleasure" frankly
allegorical, the floating figure of the woman pursued by admiring
youths. Over the main doorway Arthur Mathews had also painted an
allegory, "Victorious Spirit," the Angel of Light, with wide-spread
wings of gold, standing in the center and keeping back the spirit of
materialism, represented by a fiery horse driven by his rider with
brutal energy. "Observe how successfully Mathews has chosen his colors.
These deep purples help to bring out the splendor of those golden tones.
This canvas is unquestionably one of the best of all the murals. It
shows that in Mathews San Francisco has a man of remarkable talent, one
of the great mural painters of the country."
On the way to the second half-court we had a chance to see the South
Wall at close range, with its rich ornamented doorways, its little
niches and fountains devised to make it varied and gay. Those little
elephant heads were another sign of Faville's careful attention to
ornamental detail. And the coloring gave warmth to the background,
contrasting with the deep green of the planting.
At the Court of Flowers we met Solon Borglum's "Pioneer, too old to be
typical, different from the man in lusty middle age or in youth who came
to California in the early days. But it justified itself by suggesting
perhaps the greatest of the pioneers in old age, one who had grown with
the community, the poet, Joaquin Miller. "It's Miller sure enough," said
the architect, "even if the likeness isn't close. But why those military
trappings on the horse? Like the rest of the pioneers, Joaquin was a man
The Court of Flowers we thought well named, both for its planting,
McLaren at his best, and for its Italian Renaissance decoration, with
that pretty pergola opening out on the scene, Calder's Oriental "Flower
Girl" decorating the spaces between the arches. And those lions by
Albert Laessle were a fine decorative feature. The fountain, "Beauty and
the Beast," by Edgar Walter, of San Francisco, was one of the most
original and decorative pieces of sculpture we had seen. The figure of
the girl standing on the coils of the beast was remarkably well done and
the water flowing over the bowl, with the pipes of Pan glimpsed
underneath, made a charming picture. There was a whimsical and a
peculiarly French suggestion in the use of the decorative hat and
sandals on the nude figure. In detail those two towers at the end were
slightly different from the other two. Like the others they served as a
decoration of the wall, breaking the long lines."
Near Festival Hall
At close view we found the Festival Hall more interesting than it had
seemed at a distance. It unquestionably had something of the elegance
associated with the best French architecture. But, unlike most of the
buildings here, it did not develop out of a central idea. Much of its
ornamentation seemed put on from the outside.
Of all the domes this dome impressed us as being the least interesting.
It did not even justify itself as being a means of giving abundant
light. "This kind of architecture doesn't really belong in this country;
but it seems to be making its way. Observe the waste of space involved.
However, the curving arches on either side are rather charming. And the
architect has succeeded in putting into the whole structure a certain
amount of sentiment. In fact, throughout the whole Exposition you feel
that the architects haven't worked merely for money or for glory. They
have appreciated the chance of doing something, out of the commonplace."
The sculpture by Sherry Fry was evidently executed with the idea of
festivity in mind, the "Bacchus" and "The Reclining Woman" and two
"Floras" decorated with flowers, and "Little Pan," and "The
Torch-bearer" reproduced above each of the smaller domes. But, somehow,
those figures did not quite indicate the real character of the building,
intended for concerts and lectures and conventions, rather serious
business. The coloring, too, of the statues, was disappointing, the dull
brown being out of key with the light green of the domes.
"In the smaller concert room upstairs, Recital Hall," said the
architect, "there is some very fine stained glass; two windows, and on
the landing of the north stairway there's a third window, all done by
the man who has been called the Burne-Jones of America, Charles J.
Connick, of Boston. Instead of being hidden away there, they ought to
have been put in the Fine Arts Building. They represent something new in
the way of stained glass, and they have a wonderful depth and
As we drew near the Avenue of Progress we saw the magnificent doorway of
the Varied Industries, overladen with ornamentation. "It was clever of
Faville to put that doorway just in this spot where it would be seen by
the crowds that entered by Fillmore Street. It comes from the Santa Cruz
Hospital, in Toledo, Spain, built by the Spanish architect, De Egas, for
Cardinal Mendoza, one of the most famous portals in Europe. The
adaptation has been wonderfully done by Ralph Stackpole, with those
figures of the American workman carrying a pick at either side and the
semicircular panel just above the door and the group on top. That panel
is one of the finest pieces of sculpture in the Exposition. It has
tenderness and reverence. It's the kind of thing the mediaeval sculptors
who worked on religious themes would have been enthusiastic over. See
how simple it is, just a group of workers, with the emblems of their
work, the women spinning with the lamb close by, the artist and the
artisan, and the woman with the design of a vessel's prow in her hands,
suggesting commerce. The single figure in the center is the intelligent
workman who works with his hands and knows how to work, too. The group
on top is a very pretty conception, the Old World Handing Its Burden to
the Younger World, with its suggestions of the European people coming
over here and raising American children."
The Palace of Machinery
On reaching the Avenue of Progress we found ourselves at the gayest
corner of the Exposition, with two fine vistas of the two avenues. To
our right stood the massive Palace of Machinery, one of the largest
buildings in the world, so successfully treated by the architect that it
did not give the faintest suggestion of being cumbersome or monotonous.
"It's the Baths of Caracalla in Rome," said the architect, "adapted by a
master. Those three gables above the main entrance are taken directly
from the baths. See how simple the ornamentation is and yet how
satisfying. The building as a whole is a perfect example of old Roman
architecture, feeling its way toward the big architectural principles
that are in vogue today, among others the economical principle involved
in the counteracting of thrusts. If the Roman Emperor who was nicknamed
Caracalla on account of the hooded military tunic that he made
fashionable in his day hadn't built those baths we should probably not
have the glorious Pennsylvania station in New York, that some of the
architectural authorities consider the most important building of its
kind built in this country. Although the work here is all concrete,
Clarence Ward, the architect, says that with care, it could last
hundreds of years."
Now we were struck by those vigorous-looking figures, by Haig Patigian,
that stood on top of the Sienna columns all evidently designed to
express the power of machinery. At the entrance the reliefs of the
columns were in the same spirit and, as one might have surmised, by the
same sculptor working out the meaning of the buildings in designs that
kept the contour of the columns, strong and well-modeled.
"There's distinctive character in this building," said the architect.
"It actually conveys the sense of tremendous energy, and by the simplest
means. And inside, Ward has done something new and interesting."
When we entered we found the supports of the roof left bare. Instead of
being unsightly, they had a kind of beauty and impressiveness. "Observe
the magnificence of the spaces here on the floor and up to the ceiling.
Some one asked Ward if all this height were necessary. He said it
wasn't; but he wanted it for pictorial effect, to carry out the feeling
of massiveness and splendor."
In the great figures that stood on the columns in front of the Palace of
Machinery the architect found a theme for a discourse on the human
figure as the chief inspiration of art. "It is possible that we shall
change our minds on that subject," he remarked. "Already the world is
showing a tendency to get away from the worship of the body. Ever since
the Christian era, of course, the physical has been deprecated. We may
come to see that the body is useful as it develops and serves the
spiritual, that is, as it subordinates itself. The marvel is that the
pagan tradition has persisted so long in spite of the Christian
influence. This Exposition shows how strong it remains."
"But what would you have in place of the human figure as the inspiration
of art?" I asked.
"Oh, there are plenty of things that might take its place. Flower themes
are just as beautiful in decoration as the shapes of men and women. I
can conceive of the time when it will be considered uninteresting and
commonplace to have human bodies used as a means of aesthetic display.
The self-glorification in it alone becomes wearying. We are gradually
learning that the best we can do in life is to forget about ourselves
and our old bodies. There are even those who go so far as to look
forward to the time when we shall escape from our bodies altogether. It
would be interesting, by the way, to get the point of view of a very
spiritual Christian Scientist on the display here. I suppose that it
would see good in the tendency to reach finer and nobler conceptions of
art according to our present understanding."
Then the architect proceeded to discuss the artistic superiority of the
Japanese. Though they used the human figure in their art, they did not
play it up, after the habit of the Western world. They did not make it
seem to be of supreme importance. They conventionalized and subordinated
it to outline and color. The use of the nude they never cultivated.
Their attitude toward the body was characterized by discretion and
modesty, qualities that they showed in their dress. You would never see
a Japanese woman, for example, wearing a dress that conspicuously
brought out the lines of her figure.
"On the other hand," the architect went on, "there's no doubt we've
become absurdly prudish in this country. We're afflicted with shame of
the body which, in itself, is unhealthy. If art can help us to get back
to a more normal attitude it will do a big service. All the more reason
then why it should keep within reasonable bounds."
The Court of the Ages
As we turned from the Avenue of Progress toward the Court of the Ages
the architect said: "The workmen about here call this inner court 'Pink
Alley,' not a bad name for it, though its real name is the Court of
Mines. Throughout the Exposition Guerin shows that he is very fond of
pink, probably on account of its warmth. He has been criticised for
using it so much on the imitation Travertine for the reason that there
is no stone of exactly this color. And yet there is pink marble. But
even if there weren't any pink stone in the world, Guerin would be
justified in his use of the color for purely decorative purposes, just
as he was justified in using it on his four towers."
Inside the Court of the Ages the architect drew a long breath.
"In this court we architects feel puzzled. We think we can read new
architectural forms like a book, and find that they are saying things
repeated down the ages. But we can't read much here. In that lovely
round arch there are hints of Gothic, and yet it is not a Gothic arch.
Throughout the treatment there are echoes of the Spanish, and yet the
treatment is not Spanish. The more one studies the conception and the
workmanship the more striking it grows in originality and daring.
Mullgardt has succeeded in putting into architecture the spirit that
inspired Langdon Smith's poem 'Evolution,' beginning 'When you were a
tadpole and I was a fish.' In the chaotic feeling that the court gives
there is a subtle suggestiveness. The whole evolution of man is
intimated here from the time when he lived among the seaweed and the
fish and the lobsters and the turtles and the crabs. Even the straight
vertical lines used in the design suggest the dripping of water. When
you study the meaning of the conception you find an excuse for Aitken in
flinging his mighty fountain into the center of all this architectural
iridescence. He caught the philosophy of Mullgardt without catching the
lightness and gaiety of the execution. In that fountain he has brought
out the pagan conception of the sun, and he has used the notion that the
sun threw off the earth in a molten mass to steam and cool down here and
to bring forth those competitions between human beings that reveal the
working of the elemental passions. Aitken is material and hard, where
Mullgardt is delicate and fine. How subtly Mullgardt has interwoven the
feeling of spirituality with all the animal forces in man. That tower
alone is a masterpiece. I know of no tower just like it in the world.
From every side it is interesting. And at night it is particularly
impressive from the Marina."
The architect went on to explain something of the court's history. "When
Mullgardt started to work out his plans he must have had in mind the
transitional character of an exposition. He knew that he could afford to
try an experiment that might have been impracticable if the court had
been intended for permanency. He evidently was determined to cast
tradition to the winds and to strike out for himself."
"I should think most architects would like to work in that way."
"The usual process is very different. As soon as an architect decides to
design a building. he first chooses a certain type of architecture; then
he saturates his mind with designs that have already been done along
that line. Out of the mass of suggestions that he receives he is lucky
if he evolves something more or less new. Often he merely re-echoes or
he actually reproduces something that he is fond of or that has happened
to catch his fancy. The chances are that Mullgardt will go down into
history for his daring here. It isn't often that a man takes a big
biological conception and works it out in architecture with such
picturesqueness. It's never intrusive and yet it's there, plain enough
for anyone to see who looks close. It represented a magnificent
opportunity and Mullgardt was big enough to get away with it."
Then the architect told me the human story behind all this beauty as we
wandered back into the center of the court and stood there. "Notice the
incline," he said, "from the entrances? It reminds me that Mullgardt had
originally intended to have the floor of the court like a sunken garden.
And remember that the name expresses the original idea. The Court of
Abundance, that it is wrongly called, would have applied much better to
the Court of Four Seasons. Well, after the notion came to Mullgardt to
suggest in the court the development of man from the life of the sea to
his present state as a thinking being, less physical than spiritual, he
planned to build a court that should be the center of the pageants for
the Exposition, where art should have its living representation in the
form of processions and of plays, some of them written for the purpose.
In the sunken garden there should be plenty of room for the actors to
move about, using it as a stage. There should also be room for the
sculptured caldron that was to be an architectural feature and that
later developed into Aitken's massive evolutionary fountain. For the
base of the tower there was designed a gorgeous semi-circular staircase,
which was to serve as an entrance for the actors. Around the court there
was to run an ornamental balcony, covered with a great canopy in red and
gold, making an effect of Oriental magnificence. The people were to
watch the spectacles from the balcony and from between the arches. In
addition to the main tower, very like the present tower, but to contain
a great pipe organ, there were to be two others, in the corner at right
angles, to be called echo towers. The music of the organ was to be
transmitted to the echo towers by wires and the echoes were to serve as
a sort of accompaniment. The effect, if it had been managed right, would
have been stunning."
"Mullgardt has kept the spirit of the pageant in his court," I said.
"Just as it is it would make an ideal setting, particularly for pageant
with music, opera, for example."
"Of course," said the architect. "But the music ought not to come as it
does now, from a band. It ought to come from the orchestra. Violins
belong there. Put brass never!"
"Well, what happened to the pageant scheme?"
"Oh, when Mullgardt showed the preliminary sketches it was ruled out as
too expensive. Then he removed the balcony and the staircase and, in
place of the staircase, he introduced a cascade, keeping the rest of the
court as it had been before. His idea was to use the water in the
cascade only in a suggestive way. It was to be almost completely hidden
by vines, after the manner of Shasta Falls, and to symbolize the
mysterious appearance and disappearance of water that came from - one
didn't know where. But that scheme was rejected, too, as too expensive.
However, Mullgardt accepted the situation. He was so interested that he
worked out himself many of the details that most architects would have
left to subordinates. He really cared enough to make the whole effect as
close to perfection as he could. Everything he did he had a reason for
doing. Not one thing here did he use gratuitously. He evidently doesn't
agree with the idea that, in architecture, beauty is its own excuse for
being; he wants to make it useful, too."
Then I was initiated into the details of the workmanship. "Observe how
the ideas in the structure of the walls of the court are carried on in
the ornamental details and in the tower." The primitive man and
primitive woman repeated in a row along the upper edge had been finely
conceived and executed by Albert Weinert. And the nobility of outline in
the tower was sustained by the three pieces of sculpture in front made
by Chester Beach. That top figure some people believed to be Buddhistic
in feeling. But it belonged to no particular religion. It stood for the
Spirit of Intelligence. The ornamentation on the head was not an
aureole, as bad been reported, but a wreath of laurel, symbolic of
success. The group beneath was mediaeval, depicting mankind struggling
for the light, expressed in the torches, through those conflicts that so
pitifully came out of the aspirations of the soul, expressed in
religion. The lowest group showed humanity in its elemental condition,
related to the animal, close to the beasts. So, to be followed in
sequence, the groups ought to be studied from the lowest to the highest,
and then the eyes should be able to catch the meaning of the lovely
ornamentation, crowning the tower, the petals of the lily, emblem of
spirituality, the arrow-like spires above expressing the aspirations of
On the sides of the tower the symbolism was consistently maintained, war
and religion marking the progress of man toward the state indicated by
the single figure of The Thinker.
"And, speaking of the soul," the architect went on, "Observe these great
clusters of lights that illuminate this court and the approach on the
other side of the tower. They look like stars, don't they? And the
intention evidently is to use them for their star-like character. But
there is history behind them. They are like the monstrance used in the
Catholic Church, to hold the sacred host, the wafer that is accepted by
the faithful as the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Since the sixteenth
century it has been used by the church, a beautiful emblem, made of gold
and designed to suggest the prayer of the sun, the Spirit of God in
radiance. Its use here helps to give the court its ecclesiastical
As we made our way toward the Marina we noted how much the court gained
by its general freedom from color. In the colonnade, to be sure, Guerin
had been particularly successful with the shade of blue. But he would
have done better if he had omitted the color, in fact all color, from
the niches in the tower.
Viewed from the Marina, the entrance to the court proved to be a vision
of loveliness. There was only one intrusive note to jar the harmony, the
coarse sea figure by Sherry Fry, presumably Neptune's, Daughter,
standing in the center, with a great fish at her feet, plainly out of
place here, in spite of the court's celebration of the sea as the source
of human life.
We lingered in the colonnade to view the eight mural decorations by
Frank Brangwyn, of London. In front of The Bowmen we found a friend, a
gifted woman painter, fairly bursting with enthusiasm. "What delights me
in Brangwyn," she said, "is his artistic courage. He dares to put down
just what he feels. This sturdy figure in the foreground, for example,
peering through the trees, how many other painters would have allowed
him to turn his back on the spectator? And yet how interesting he is and
"Some of those heads strike me as curious," I remarked. "That fellow
closest to the center, just about to let his arrow fly, seems to have no
head to speak of."
"Sometimes he's careless with his drawing. And yet he can draw
magnificently, too. He evidently had a purpose in making so many of the
heads in these murals almost deformed. He wanted to suggest that these
types were in no way mental. They were wholly physical. Notice the care
he has lavished on their muscular bodies, their great shoulders and
"It doesn't seem like English work, does it?" said the architect.
"No, there's something almost Oriental about it both in the feeling and
the coloring. And there's the Pagan love of the elemental life."
"But what a chance Brangwyn had to do something new with this
magnificent subject," the architect went on. "At last, after centuries
of effort, men are actually conquering the air. They've learned to fly.
They've become birds. Now why didn't Brangwyn give us a pictorial
expression of that miracle? Why didn't the artist have as much sense as
the man of affairs who pays Art Smith to come out here and fly before
I argued that Brangwyn preferred to deal with antique themes - they were
so much more pictorial.
The architect interrupted with some impatience. "But that's exactly what
they're not. In my opinion Whistler was perfectly right when he said
that if a mural decorator couldn't make modern life pictorial he didn't
know his business. Flying through the air is only one of many wonders in
the life of today that cry out for expression in art; but you scarcely
catch a note of them here."
"For example?" said the painter.
"Industry - our great machines, the new power they bring into the world,
the change in industrial relations and social and moral ideals. Now in
these murals, Brangwyn has simply repeated himself and he hasn't by any
means done his best work. And I question whether his observation is so
accurate as you admirers of his try to make it appear. Look at the way
those fellows are holding their bows - with the left hand, presumably
for the pictorial effect of the composition. Well, let that point pass.
One fellow has shot his arrow. The other is holding his arrow between
the fore finger and the middle finger. Well, it won't go very far. The
Indians know better. They let the arrow rest on the thumb to give it
plenty of freedom to fly. One of those bows, by the way, has no string.
Brangwyn probably thought it wouldn't be missed."
As we looked at the other panels the architect conceded that the points
the painter raised for Brangwyn, the brilliant use of color; the
dramatic grouping and the fineness of characterization, were true
enough. "But he's too monotonous. Though his groups are of different
periods, some of them ages apart, they're all essentially alike and the
figures are even dressed alike. I'm perfectly willing to make allowance
for artistic convention. But why should an artist limit himself
unnecessarily when he has all the ages to draw on? Why should he neglect
the present, the greatest of all the ages?"
"Ah, I'm afraid you're too literal said the painter. "You want to limit
a genius to rules."
We turned from The Bowmen to study in detail the second illustration of
Air, much more modern and yet charmingly old-fashioned, the windmill and
the little mill high in the background, the group of naked boys flying
kites, the toilers and their children, going home as fast as they could,
fighting the wind, their picturesque draperies flying around them.
The architect was impressed. "He's caught the feeling of the
thunderstorm, hasn't he?" he said.
"And he's brought out all the picturesqueness and the color and the
majesty and even the humor," said the painter. "See how wonderfully be
has composed the picture, what pictorial use he has made of every
detail. The background of the clouds and the rain, the dark blues and
the green and the pink; and the kites catching some of the color, and
the lovely color of the mill and of the grass dried by the sun. And see
that figure up there on the steps, all windblown and rushing under
cover. It's all beautiful and yet there's not one face or figure there
that would be considered beautiful by the painter who works for
prettiness. He has no interest whatever in what the average mural
decorator considers beautiful. And yet he sees beauty everywhere and he
makes it felt. How pictorially he has used those purple flowers in the
foreground at the base of the composition. And observe their relation to
the purple clouds on top. And then what character he has put into those
active figures, particularly in this queer little boy, naked except for
the purple drapery flying from his waist. He has caught something of the
fantastic spirit that you often see in children."
In nearing the two panels illustrating Water we had a chance to see how
dexterously Brangwyn could manage his design without perspective, which
would have made a hole in the wall. Those women with jars on their heads
stood against a sky none the less lovely because it was flat. It was
exquisite in its varieties of blue and white and green. That sturdy
fellow lifting a heavy jar was actually working and working hard. "And
how splendidly Brangwyn has modeled the figure with his back turned to
us," the painter exclaimed. "What a stroke of genius it was that a
yellow handkerchief of just that shade should hang from his neck. And
the figures in the companion panel drawing their nets, they are putting
their heart and soul into their work and they are having a good time,
too. And this man here in the corner, with the purple shadows on his
bare back, lifting his net, he's evidently had a big catch. He's holding
the net in a way that shows it's heavy. And how decorative those men in
the background are, with the baskets on their heads. Brangwyn loves to
use figures in this attitude. They are interesting and picturesque and
dramatic at the same time."
"But they're too conscious," the architect insisted, "too posed.
"Remember, they're not paintings," the painter insisted. "They're formal
In the panel representing the elementary use of Fire we were all struck
by Brangwyn's daring and fine treatment of the ugly. Nearly every face
was almost grotesque. And yet every face was appealing for the simple
reason that it expressed attractive human qualities. Two, a man and a
woman, had noses ridiculously large. The group of men in the center of
the background, at the base, around the fire, had apparently started the
fire by rubbing sticks together. One was intently leaning forward, as if
in the act of blowing. Among the figures behind the group stood a man
with an infant in his arms, vividly characterized by the unseeing eyes.
That infant was instantly singled out by the painter.
"Brangwyn is very wonderful in his observation of children. He has a
quality that is almost maternal. Observe the difference between the
expression in the face of that baby and the expression in the face of
that little boy to the left of the fire-makers. How intently he is
looking on as he leans against the brown jar. He shows all the interest
of a boy just learning how to do things."
The kiln charmed us, too, though we regretted that it did not explain
itself quite so spontaneously as most of the other panels. "But
symbolism ought not to be too obvious, you know," the painter argued.
"There's a certain charm in vagueness. It makes you feel your way toward
a work- of art. The more you think about this panel the more you find
there. To me it suggests the relation between fire and the abundance of
the earth. See how cleverly, in each case of these two panels, Brangwyn
has used smoke, first as a thin line, breaking into two lines as it goes
up and interweaving, and then as a great flowing wreath, dividing the
panel in two parts without weakening the unity."
For composition we decided that the two Earth panels were among the most
remarkable of all. With satisfaction I heard Brangwyn compared by the
painter to a great stage manager. "When I look at these groupings, I am
reminded of Forbes-Robertson's productions of plays." Now we could see
how brilliantly the decorator had planned in securing his effects of
height by starting his group of figures close to the top of the canvas.
And with what skill he had used trees and vines and vegetables and
fruits, both for design and for coloring. "He has always been mad about
apples and squashes," said that feminine voice. "In nearly every picture
here you will find not one squash only, but several squashes. He loves
them for their color and their shape. And how wonderful he makes the
color of the grape. He suggests the miracle of its deep purple."
We admired the painter's pictorial use of shadow on those powerful and
scantily draped figures and the animation he put into the bodies of the
wine-pressers. And down there in a corner he had perfectly reproduced
the attitude and facial expression of the worker at rest, holding out
his cup for a drink. "There's another of those queer and interesting
children. But oh, most wonderful of all is the opposite panel that ought
to be called Abundance. See that mother, holding her lusty baby. The
face is commonplace enough, but it has all motherhood in it. And the
woman behind, she looks as if she might be a mother bereft or one of
those women cheated out of motherhood."
The architect, though he still had his reservations on the subject of
the Brangwyns, conceded that they were distinctly architectural. They
blended into the spirit of the court.
The painter at once supported the opinion. "In these colonnades Guerin
has done some of his finest coloring. The blue and the red are in
absolute harmony with Brangwyn's rich tones. They must have been applied
to fit the canvases. But the marvel is that the murals should show up so
magnificently. Brangwyn painted them in London and he must have had
second sight to divine just the right scheme. Do you realize," she went
on enthusiastically, fairly losing herself in her enjoyment, "the
immense difficulties he had to contend with? In the first place, see how
huge those canvases are. Their size created all kinds of problems. To
view them right, to get a line on the detail, so to speak, would have
meant, for the average painter, walking long distances. But, in his
studio, Brangwyn could not have taken anything like accurate
"Perhaps he painted them out of doors," the architect suggested.
"I believe the explanation is that he thought them all out and he saw
them in their places. From Mr. Mullgardt he had probably received a
complete account, with drawings, of just what the court was going to be
like. Then it lived before him and he made the murals live. His work
shows that he begins in the right place, unlike so many people who paint
from outside. He feels the qualities of the people he is going to paint.
He really loves them. He loves their surroundings. He must be very
elemental in his nature. They say he is a great, uncouth sort of a
fellow. When he first went to London he was very contemptuous of the
work done by the academicians. It must have seemed to him, a good deal
of it, effeminate and trifling. Can't you see how those murals show that
he is a man clear through? They are masculine in every detail."
"And yet they have a good deal of delicacy, too, haven't they?" said the
architect. "See how atmospheric those backgrounds are. They actually
"Because they are unconventional and because they are true. And yet they
are purely decorative. You wouldn't like to think of them as standing
apart in a great frame. When you go close you will see that the colors
are laid on flat. And they don't shine. For this reason they have great
carrying power. Observe The Bowmen down there in the distance. Even from
this remote end of the court it expresses itself as lovely in color and
composition. Let us walk down and see how it grows on us as we
Slowly we moved along the colonnade, the figures seeming to grow more
and more lifelike as the painter indicated their technical merits. "They
are of the earth, those men, aren't they? They are the antithesis of the
highly civilized types used by so many of the painters today. They
suggest red blood and strength of limb and joy in the natural things of
life, eating, drinking, the open air, and simple comradeship. They make
us see the wonder of outdoor living, the kind of living that most of us
have missed. What a pleasure it is to find a worker in any kind of work
trying to do a thing and actually doing it and doing it with splendid
abandon. Now if Brangwyn hadn't entered into the feelings of those
bowmen in the foreground, he couldn't have made the figure alive. And
the life, remember, isn't merely brought out by the happy use of the
flesh tints or by the play of the muscles. It's in the animating spirit.
As Brangwyn painted those fellows, he felt like a bowman. So he
succeeded in putting into his canvas the strength that each bowman put
into his bow. He isn't pretending to shoot, that sturdy fellow in front.
He is shooting, and he's going to get what he is after."
Before each of the four pairs of murals, the painter indicated to us the
happy way in which, by the deft use of the coloring, each blended into
the other, and she called my attention to the clearness of the
symbolism. So often, she remarked, the mural decorators used
compositions that seemed like efforts to hide secrets, a childish way of
working, sure to defeat itself. Brangwyn had no secrets. He was sincere
and direct. He was happy over this work. He said that he had enjoyed
doing it more than anything else he had ever done before. If these
canvases had been found in the heart of Africa they would have been
identified as coming from Brangwyn. No one else used color just as he
did, with his kind of courage. His colors were arbitrary, too. He didn't
follow nature and yet he always conveyed the spirit of natural things.
Throughout his work he showed that he was a close and subtle observer.
The sweep of rain through the air, the movement of figures and of
draperies in the wind, the expression of human effort, how wonderfully
he managed to suggest them all and to make them pictorial. But he wasn't
interested in merely an activity. He loved repose. In nearly all of
these eight canvases, so brimming with life, there were figures looking
on serenely, calmly, conveying the impression of being absolutely at
In every particular, according to the searching observer, Brangwyn was
successful, with the exception of one, his treatment of birds. He
evidently didn't know birds. If he had known them he would have loved
them, and if he had loved them he would have entered into their spirit
and he would have flown with them and he would have made them fly in his
painting. Now they merely flopped. They were just about as much alive as
the clay figures used in a shooting match. Even his highly decorative
flamingoes weren't right. They did not stand firmly on the ground. They
weren't alive. And the necks of the two flamingoes never could have met
in the curves that Brangwyn gave them. This very failure, amusing as it
was and hardly detracting from the effect of his work as a whole, was
another proof that he was an instinctive painter, who relied for his
guidance on feeling. But it was plain enough that he had chosen those
flamingoes for their color, and a right choice it was.
We could not decide which of the eight murals we liked best. Perhaps,
after all, they could not be considered apart. Though each was in itself
a unity, the eight completely expressed a big conception. And in detail
each canvas was full of delightful bits. If you closed your hand and
peered between your thumb and your fingers, you could see how
beautifully the color had been applied and how, throughout the whole
surface, the workmanship sustained itself. Never was there the sense of
faltering or of petering out. And everywhere there were expressions of
fine understanding and sympathy, in the study of a peasant mother
holding her babe, nude boys flying kites, a happy face with the lips
blowing a pipe, a muscular figure lifting a jar, all conveying abundant
life and rich coloring.
The painter finally ran away from us, apologizing for her enthusiasm.
In discussing her opinions, the architect said: "Well, I don't
altogether agree. But she may be right. She sees from the inside, which
is very different from seeing from the outside. There is a great deal of
artistic appreciation that can be felt only by the artist, by the
fellow-craftsman. No wonder we go so far astray when we criticise
aspects of art that we're only related to indirectly or not related at
We walked to the Marina. From there we saw the sun, a great red ball,
sinking behind the Golden Gate.
Watching the Lights Change
"There probably never was an Exposition in a more magnificent setting,"
said the architect. "The stretch from here to the Golden Gate makes one
of the most splendid bits of scenery in the whole world. It was a good
idea on the part of the Exposition people to build the little railway
here so that visitors should get a glimpse of all the beauty. But,
ideally, the view ought to be seen from a height. The curve from here to
the Cliff House makes our foreign visitors gasp. It also makes them
wonder why our boasting over San Francisco doesn't include some of the
things we have the best excuse to boast about."
We stopped at one of the open-air restaurants, where we could eat and
watch the fading light at the same time. Then we went to the lagoon,
which the architect declared to be particularly interesting at this time
The rotunda and the colonnade began to take on a deeper mystery. Across
the surface of the water ran a faint ripple. In the background, over the
Golden Gate, the sky was turning to flame. Delicate, gray cobwebs seemed
to float in the air like veils, dusk and fog intermingled.
The light grew dim as we sauntered along the colonnade of the Palace.
Through the columns we could see the Tower of Jewels, suddenly
illuminated from inside, all in red, obscuring the sculptured figures
and giving the lines greater unity and reach.
In the red glow the Italian towers fairly leaped into the air. "It's
curious how the light makes them taller," said the architect.
Now the grounds were twinkling with a multitude of bulbs.
Presently the red light in the tower softened into white. Two of the
Italian towers grew paler, the other two retaining their brilliancy.
Ryan was putting on his colors like a painter, one over another.
We made our way back to the Marina, where the scintillators were soon to
blaze. Before we arrived they informed us of their presence by the great
feathered fan, of many colors, that rose into the sky.
"There was some opposition to the decorating of the Tower with jewels.
The architects with conservative ideas very naturally felt that
architecture which depended on its lines for beauty didn't need that
kind of ornament. But Ryan has unquestionably justified himself. The
feature has been talked about throughout the country more than any
other. See how the light falls on the tower like a great shimmering
robe. It gains by the contrast it makes with the subdued lighting
The group on the Column of Progress stood out against the sky.
The doorways were taking on the color of gold, becoming even more
beautiful than they had been by day.
"What Ryan tried hardest to get," said the architect, "was evenness of
lighting. He wanted to bring out clearly the details of the architecture
and he succeeded."
The Illuminating and the Reflections
That motionless steam engine, all in gray, harmonizing with the
Travertine, was furiously at work. Into the air it sent clouds of steam
that turned to red and blue and green under Ryan's magic. And up there,
at the top of the Column of Progress, we saw the Adventurous Bowman and
his companions in two groups, one reflected on the illuminated fog.
Through the smoke and the fog the bombs were shooting and breaking into
great masses of liquid fire, golden and green and pink and yellow.
"Someone says we're all children at heart," the architect remarked.
"These fireworks get more attention than all the architecture and the
art put together. But, after all, they're just about as beautiful as
anything man can make and, in the way of color, they put the artists to
We were part of the crowd that swept to the Court of the Universe, never
so splendid as at night, with the columns reflected in the pool and
Calder's star figures shining from the concealed electric bulbs. On
reaching the court itself we stood at the end of one of the corridors
and looked down. Great drops of light hung on the columns like molten
gold. "Ryan has done something very artistic and unusual there," the
architect remarked. "So far as I know nothing just like it has ever been
done before. It suggests the tongues of fire mentioned in the Scripture
that descended from Heaven."
In the sunken garden those two shafts, rising from the fountains,
looking like stone by day, had become great candles, glowing from the
base to the glass globe on top. "They're practically the sole means of
illuminating this court. The other lights are merely ornamental. So far
as I'm aware nothing just like these shafts has ever been tried in an
Exposition or anywhere else. It's a novel Expositional effect. Some
people don't like it; but most people admire it immensely. It symbolizes
the gold that first drew the multitude to this part of the world. If the
golden color had been used more extensively throughout the Exposition it
would have helped a lot. Guerin gets it at night by means of the light
that shines through the windows and Faville gets it in the light behind
those wonderful doorways of his that haven't been praised half as much
as they ought to be."
The Court of the Ages lured us along the dimly lighted inner court, the
arches taking on an even more delicate beauty in the night light. Once
within the court we found ourselves under the spell of Mullgardt's
genius. The architecture, the cauldrons sending out pink steam, the
flaming serpents, the torches on the tower, the warm lights from within
the tower, the great ecclesiastical stars, brilliant with electricity,
all carried out the idea of the earth, cast off by the sun.
In the entrance court we found the effects less magnificent but, in
their way, just as beautiful. The lighting emphasized the refinement of
the court, the rich delicacy of the ornamentation. "Mullgardt ought to
go down into history for this contribution to the Exposition," said the
architect. "He has shown that originality is still possible in
In the Court of the Four Seasons we watched the Emerald Pool turning the
architecture into a mermaids' palace. The water flowing under the four
groups of the seasons shone from an invisible light beneath, coloring it
a rich green. "When Ryan promised to illuminate the water here without
letting the source of the light be seen, it was thought by the people it
couldn't be done." For a long time we sat in front of the lagoon where
the swans were silently floating and, and the Palace of Fine Arts was
reproduced with a deeper mystery. Now we could feel the relation between
the colonnade and Gerome's chariot race. "It would please Gerome if he
could know that he had helped to inspire so magnificent a conception,"
said the architect. "And if Boecklin could see this vision and hear that
his Island of the Dead had started Maybeck's mind thinking of it he
would probably be astonished and delighted at the same time. With his
fine understanding of the influences operating in art he would see that
his contribution did not in any way detract from Maybeck's originality.
Down the centuries minds have been influencing one another and, in this
way, adding to the sum of wisdom and beauty in the world. Now and then,
as in this instance, we can plainly see the influences at work. Behind
Boecklin and Gerome there were doubtless influences that led to their
making those two pictures, inspirations from nature or from other
artists, or both together. And this palace will doubtless inspire many
another noble conception."
"When we apply that thought to the Exposition as a whole," I said, "we
can see what a big influence it is likely to have on the art of the
"It has undoubtedly had a big influence already, even though we may not
he able, as yet, to see it working. The very interest the Exposition
has, aroused in the people that come here, whether they are artists or
not, can't help being productive."
Seeing the Lights Fade
We went over to the South Gardens to see the lights change on the Tower
of Jewels, passing the half-dome of Philosophy, the stained glass of the
windows enveiling the background. They were still robing the tower in
pure white, and the hundred thousand pieces of Austrian cut glass were
shimmering. "They must have had a hard time getting those jewels
fastened on the ornamentation of the upper tiers. The wind up there is
very strong. Some of the men came near being blown off. It took pretty
expert acrobatic work to hang the jewels out on the extreme edges.
Suddenly the lights on the tower glowed into red. The tower itself
seemed to become thinner and finer in outline.
"There are people who don't like this color," said the architect. "It's
fashionable nowadays to feel a prejudice against red. But it is one of
the most beautiful colors in nature and one of nature's greatest
favorites, associated with fire and with flowers. To me the tower is
never so beautiful as it is when the red light seemed to burn from a
fire inside. See how it tends to eliminate the superfluous
ornamentation. It brings out the grace of line in the upper tiers, like
folded wings. With just a few eliminations the improvement in that tower
would be astonishing."
Presently the lights in the tower went out altogether. The four Italian
towers also grew dim. It was getting late. People were hurrying out. But
we lingered. We wished to see this city of domes as it appeared without
any lights at all, except for those that were kept burning to meet the
requirements of the law.
For an hour we roamed about the deserted place. Here and there we would
meet a belated visitor or a group of people from some indoor festivity.
The material had taken on a finer quality. It looked like stone.
Wonderful as the Exposition was by day and in the evening, it was far
more wonderful at this hour.
Now it was easy to imagine the scene as a city, with the inhabitants
asleep in their beds. But just what kind of city it was I could not make
up my mind. When I expressed this thought to the architect, he said:
"Have you ever seen David Roberts' big illustrated volumes, 'Travels in
the Holy Land'? If you haven't, look them up. Then you will see what
kind of a city this city is. It's a city of Palestine. It's Jerusalem
and Jaffa and Akka all over again."
Features that Ought to be Noted by Day
The South Gardens
Hedge. Idea suggested by W. B. Faville, of Bliss & Faville, architects,
of San Francisco, and developed by John McLaren, landscape gardener and
superintendent of the Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, to give
impression of old English wall. African dew plant grown in shallow
boxes, two inches deep, covered with wire netting.
Design of entrance at Scott Street, by Joseph J. Rankin.
South Gardens, French in character, with suggestions of Spanish.
Planting by John McLaren.
In center, "Fountain of Energy," by A. Stirling Calder, acting chief of
sculpture; French influence. Expresses triumph of energy that built the
canal. Youth on horseback, standing in stirrups, "Energy." Figures on
shoulders, "Fame" and "Valor." Figures on globe, two hemispheres;
Western, bull-man; Eastern, lioness-woman. Figures on base, sea-spirits.
Upright figure on globe, Panama. Large figures in pool, the oceans: The
Atlantic, a woman with coral in her hair, riding on back of armored
fish; North Sea, an Eskimo hunting on back of walrus; Pacific, a woman
on back of large sea lion; and South Sea, a negro on back of trumpeting
sea-elephant. Sea-maidens on dolphins' backs, in pool.
To right and left, in front of Festival Hall, and Horticultural Palace,
at ends of long pools, French fountain of "The Mermaid," figure, by
Arthur Putnam, of San Francisco.
To right, large building, Festival Hall, by Robert Farquhar, of Los
Angeles; French theatre architecture. Studied from the theatres of the
Beaux Arts style of French architecture. Details, French Renaissance
developed from the Italian influence.
To right, Press Building, designed and built by the Exposition; Harris
H. D. Connick, Director of Works.
To left, large building, Palace of Horticulture, Bakewell & Brown,
To left, Young Women's Christian Association.
French light standards, by Walter D'Arcy Ryan and P. E. Denneville.
French ornamental vases, filled with flowers, by E. F. Champney.
The wall, by Faville, with ornamental Spanish entrances, runs around
main courts and palaces, making the walled city. Tiled roofs suggesting
mission architecture, associated with early California missions, a style
developed from the Spanish.
Four smaller towers, two on either side of large tower, by George W.
Kelham, of San Francisco; Italian Renaissance.
Sand on walks, selected by Jules Guerin for its pink color to harmonize
with color scheme. Binds together buildings, its pink harmonizing with
pink of walls. Grains of sand in walks translucent.
Flag poles, ornamented with gilt star, by Faville. Orange-colored
streamers by Guerin.
Heraldic designs related to history of Pacific Coast, by Ryan.
Thoroughfare running along wall and lined with palms, Avenue of Palms.
Equestrian statue, to right of Tower of Jewels, by Charles Niehaus,
"Cortez," conquerer of Mexico.
Equestrian statue, to left, by Charles Cary Rumsey, "Pizarro," conqueror
of Peru. Fine in action and spirit.
Tower of Jewels
Main tower breaking southern wall, facing South Gardens, the Tower of
Jewels, by Thomas Hastings, of Carrere & Hastings, New York. Developed
from Italian Renaissance architecture, with Byzantine modifications, and
designed to suggest an Aztec tower; 433 feet high; original intention to
make it 100 feet higher.
Inscriptions on wall at base of tower chosen by Porter Garnett of
Berkeley, explain steps that led to building of Panama Canal, celebrated
by Exposition. On both sides of inscriptions Roman fasces denoting
public authority. From left to right: "1501 Rodrigo de Bastides pursuing
his course beyond the West Indies discovers Panama"; "1513 Vasco Nunes
de Balboa crosses the Isthmus of Panama and discovers the Pacific
Ocean"; "1904 the United States, succeeding France, begins operations on
the Panama Canal"; "1915 the Panama Canal is opened to the commerce of
Large Composite columns on base. Arched capitals with acanthus,
ornamented with the American eagle, the nude figure of child, and
ornamental design suggesting California fruits. Colored to resemble
Corinthian columns at either side, eagles at corners of capital, human
Figures by John Flanagan, of New York, represent types in early
California history: Spanish adventurer of sixteenth century, who came to
California and started Spanish influence; priest, who brought the
Catholic religion to California Indians; philosopher, or scholar and
teacher; and the Spanish warrior, the soldier of sixteenth century, who
came to win territory for Spanish king. Above cornice of tower stand
four figures on each of the four sides, twice life-size.
Between statues by Flanagan, square decorative panels; youthful figures
with wreath, repeated on north of tower. Designed by Hastings, modelled
by Newman and Evans, New York.
Armored horsemen on terrace, by F. M. L. Tonetti, type of Spanish
soldier. Repeated four times on each side. Well modeled, but damaged in
effect by being placed in row.
Rows of eagles on niches of tower, symbol of American initiative.
Decorative vase on wings of tower, Italian. Use of ram's head below
Wreaths of laurel under eagles, rewards of courage, suggesting triumph
of building canal.
Prows of triremes, at corners on third lift, denoting worldwide
Ornamental use of niches, columns, vases, head-piece, breastplates,
shields, the pagan bull, Cleopatra's Needle.
Human figures supporting globe, encircled with girdle, point of tower;
suggest Atlas; ancient idea; somewhat like the group of the four
quarters of the world by Jean Baptiste Carbeaux in the gardens of the
Tower broken into seven stages. Horizontal lines have flattening effect;
tower does not appear so high as it really is.
One hundred and thirty-five thousand jewels on tower, suspended to
vibrate. Ruby, emerald, aquamarine, white, yellow. Made in Austria, of
Arch of Tower of Jewels, 110 feet high, 60 feet broad; fine example of
Roman arch, like Arch of Constantine and Arch of Titus.
Figure of Minerva on centerpiece of arch, north and south.
Recessed or coffered panels in ceiling, richly colored, blue harmonizing
with murals on east and west walls.
Murals by William de Leftwich Dodge, of New York. To west, "Atlantic and
the Pacific," with the "Purchase" to right, and the "Discovery" to left.
Opposite, "Gateway of All Nations," with "Labor Crowned" and the
"Achievement" on sides. Tone of murals strengthens arch. Subjects
related to history of California and the Panama Canal.
Fountains, one in each of the colonnades. To right, "Fountain of Youth,"
by Mrs. Edith Woodman Burroughs, of Flushing, New York. Figure of girl,
simple and well-modeled; panels at either side show boats, youth rowing
the older people; eagle and laurel wreath at back, suggest that central
figure is United States. One figure shows a woman with hand at ear, her
attention turned toward the beauty and happiness of lost youth. To left,
"Fountain of El Dorado," by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (Mrs. Harry
Payne Whitney), of New York. Panels at either side show human struggle
for "land of gold," or "happiness," or "success." Portals ajar, but
Egyptian guardians bar the way. Dramatic subject, vigorous handling.
View of San Francisco hills between the columns, one of the most
beautiful views on the grounds.
Inscriptions on north of tower, by Garnett, discovery of California and
union with United States. From left to right: "1542 Juan Rodriguez
Cabrillo discovers California and lands on its shores." "1776 Jose
Joaquin Moraga founds the Mission of San Francisco de Asis"; "1846 the
United States upon the outbreak of war with Mexico takes possession of
California"; "1850 California is admitted to the Union as a sovereign
Forecourt of Court of Universe; coloring good, graceful planting of
Trees in niches under tower; contrast of colors, dark green, blue and
Court of the Universe
Elephant poles, Roman, by McKim, Mead & White; streamers by Guerin.
Bear fountains, in walls of Palaces of Liberal Arts and Manufactures,
north of Tower of Jewels. Three on each wall. Colors, pink, dark blue,
Largest court in Exposition. By McKim, Mead & White, architects, of New
York. Inspired by Bernini's entrance to St. Peter's, in Rome.
Area of court, seven acres; 650 feet wide from arch to arch; 1200 feet
from Tower of Jewels to Column of Progress.
Palaces around court: northeast, Transportation; northwest, Agriculture;
southwest, Liberal Arts; southeast, Manufactures.
Sunken Garden, planted by John McLaren.
Height of Arches of Rising Sun and Setting Sun, 203 feet from base to
tip of sculpture.
East, Arch of Rising Sun; Arch of Setting Sun, in west. Suggested by
arches of Constantine and Titus in Rome; modified by use of green
lattices, Oriental, and by colossal sculptural groups, the East and the
West, in place of Roman chariot or quadriga.
Columns in front of arches; composite, mingling of Ionic and Corinthian;
female figure used as decoration.
"Angel of Peace," by Leo Lentelli, on each side of arches on Sienna
columns, repeated four times. Sword is turned down, but not sheathed, a
commentary on modern peace.
"Pegasus," in triangular spaces above arch, by Frederick G. R. Roth,
repeated on the other side.
Medallions, right and left sides of arches. Female figures suggesting
Nature, by Calder; male figures suggesting Art, by B. Bufano, of New
Above medallions on frieze, decorative griffons.
Quotations on Arch of Rising Sun, west side, facing court, chosen by
Garnett. Panels from left to right: "They who know the truth are not
equal to those who love it," from Confucius, the Chinese philosopher;
"The moon sinks yonder in the west while in the east the glorious sun
behind the herald dawn appears; thus rise and set in constant change
those shining orbs and regulate the very life of this, our world," from
"Shakuntala" by Kalidasa, the Indian poet; "Our eyes and hearts uplifted
seem to gaze on heaven's radiance," from Hitomaro, the Japanese poet.
Quotations on Arch of Rising Sun, east side, facing Florentine Court.
Panels from left to right: "He that honors not himself lacks honor
wheresoe'er he goes," from Zuhayr, the Arabian poet; "The balmy air
diffuses health and fragrance; so tempered is the genial glow that we
know neither heat nor cold; tulips and hyacinths abound; fostered by a
delicious clime, the earth blooms like a garden," from Firdausi, the
Persian poet; "A wise man teaches, be not angry. From untrodden ways
turn aside," from Phra Ruang, the Siamese poet.
Crenellated parapet on arches, note from military architecture. Archers
used to shoot from behind.