M. H. de Young Memorial Museum
The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco consists of two separate museum locations, the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum in Golden Gate Park and the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park.
The American art collection of the de Young Museum consists of over 1,000 paintings, 800 sculptures, and 3,000 decorative arts objects. The Museum’s textiles collection includes over 13,000 textiles and costumes from around the world.
The Africa, Pacific, and the Americas collection is more than 1,400 objects of Art.
The de Young Museum collection includes American Art from the 17th through the 21st centuries, international contemporary art, textiles, and costumes, and Art from the Americas, the Pacific, and Africa.
The de Young Museum is an art museum at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. The de Young is named after its founder, early San Francisco newspaperman M. H. de Young.
Highlights of the de Young Museum
- “The Last Moments of John Brown” by Thomas Hovenden
- Justice by David Gilmour Blythe
- “St. John the Baptist Preaching” by Mattia Preti
- “Sphere Within Sphere,” “Sfera con Sfera,” by Arnaldo Pomodoro
- “The Ironworkers’ Noontime” by Thomas Pollock Anshutz
A Virtual Tour of the de Young Museum
“The Last Moments of John Brown” by Thomas Hovenden depicts abolitionist John Brown (1800–1859) being taken to his execution in Charles Town, Virginia (now West Virginia), in 1859.
Brown believed in and advocated armed insurrection as the only way to overthrow slavery in the United States. Brown’s actions as an abolitionist and the tactics he used still make him a controversial figure.
He is both memorialized as a heroic martyr and visionary and vilified as a madman and a terrorist. Hovenden’s heroic image of Brown recalls a Moses type figure.
His vision of freedom for future generations of African Americans was symbolized by the false legend of Brown blessing the slave child.
A few months before the event depicted in this painting, Brown led a raid on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia (today West Virginia), intending to start a slave liberation movement.
He seized the armory, but seven people were killed, and ten or more were injured. He intended to arm slaves with weapons from the arsenal, but only a small number of local slaves joined his revolt.
Justice by David Gilmour Blythe depicts a policeman, who can be identified by the star badge and baton, leading a group of suspects into a courtroom.
The suspects are carrying their tools of the trade, symbolizing recently arrived immigrants. The suspects are directed to join a musician with a banjo who is already seated on a bench.
The presiding judge is symbolized by the man sitting on the high bench. He is below the scales of justice, which are held by an American eagle.
The poster with the heading “Blood Tubs” attached to the judge’s bench refers to members of a street gang and political party that kidnapped and dunked political opponents in slaughterhouse barrels of blood.
The members of the Blood Tubs supported the American Party, which promoted anti-foreign and anti-Catholic prejudice and sought to restrict immigration to the United States.
The poster also has the visible initials “SAM,” and the word “ITALY” on it. “SAM” is an abbreviation for “Uncle Sam,” which was a nickname for the party, popularly called the “Know-Nothing Party.”
“St. John the Baptist Preaching” by Mattia Preti depicts John as the forerunner of Jesus, who announces Jesus’ coming.
This painting shows John’s prophetizing and preparing the people for Jesus’ ministry as symbolized by his staff, which has a cross on top with a message.
St. John is shown preaching and pointing to the heavens urging his audience to remember that their reward is waiting in heaven, and their salvation is in God’s hands.
Preti has included the symbols for St. John the Baptist frequently is shown in Christian art, identifiable including the reed cross, his camel’s skin clothing, and lamb.
“Sphere Within Sphere,” also known as “Sfera con Sfera,” is a series of sculptures created by sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro. The sculpture depicts an enormous metal sphere with a cracked surface, revealing an intricate interior with another cracked sphere inside.
The internal layers resemble the gears or cogwheels of a machine that symbolizes the complexity of the world. The fractured cracks symbolize the fragility of our society.
Pomodoro began his series of spheres in the 1960s with Sphere no. 1 and has continued for nearly forty years designing the globe-like pieces, each depicting different maps of destruction.
Each of the outer balls is fractured, revealing an intricate interior that unveils yet another cracking orb. The design of the internal layers mimics the gears of a clock or the inner workings of a grand piano, revealing the hidden complexity.
Pomodoro created the first version for the Vatican Museum in the 1960s and later began creating similar versions for many other institutions that can now be found in choice locations all over the world.
The artist’s initial vision was that the inner ball represented the Earth, and the outer ball represented our institutions.
“The Ironworkers’ Noontime” by Thomas Pollock Anshutz depicts twenty-or-so workers on their break in the yard of a foundry. It was painted near Wheeling, West Virginia, and conceived in a naturalistic style featuring realistic anatomical depictions of men and boys.
The men are of all ages, some with naked torsos. The gray color pallet dominates for dirt on the ground, the industrial blast furnaces, and smoke. The rust and brown tones are used for ground waste, chimneys, brickwork, and the men’s clothing.
The skin tones of the men’s torsos pop out of the dark background—the men’s postures and poses echo the motions of the machinery inside the factory.
Anshutz composed this painting with the help of photographs and individual studies. Some of the figures are depicted in a classical pose, such as the man in the foreground rubbing his arm.
The composition appears to be an indictment of industrialization by portraying an industrial snapshot that was not picturesque. It was the first American paintings to depict the bleakness of factory life and its impacts on individuals.
de Young Museum
- Name: M. H. de Young Memorial Museum
- City: San Francisco
- Country: United States
- Established: 1895
- Type: Art Museum
- Locations: 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco, California
de Young Museum Map
De Young Museum | San Francisco, US
de Young Fine Arts Museum in San Francisco – An Artist’s Paradise
San Francisco – De Young Museum
Exploring De Young Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco
A Virtual Tour of Museums in San Francisco
- Asian Art Museum – San Francisco
- De Young Museum
- San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
- Legion of Honor Museum
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“Well done is better than well said.”
– Benjamin Franklin
Photo Credit: By Template:Wtu (shared/WT Template:FromWt) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons