The City of Domes
John D. Barry
Part 1 out of 3
This etext was produced by David A. Schwan
The City of Domes
A Walk with an Architect About the Courts and Palaces of the Panama
Pacific International ExposItion with a Discussion of Its Architecture -
Its Sculpture - Its Mural Decorations Its Coloring - And Its Lighting -
Preceded by a History of Its Growth
by John D. Barry
To the architects, the artists and the artisans and to the men of
affairs who sustained them in the cooperative work that created an
exposition of surpassing beauty, unique among the expositions of the
I. The View from the Hill
II. The Approach
III. In the South Gardens
IV. Under the Tower of Jewels
V. The Court of the Universe
VI. On the Marina
VII. Toward the Court of the Four Seasons
VIII. The Court of the Four Seasons
IX. The Palace of Fine Arts from across the Lagoon
X. The Palace of Fine Arts at Close Range
XI. At the Palace of Horticulture
XII. The Half Courts
XIII. Near Festival Hall
XIV. The Palace of Machinery
XV. The Court of the Ages
XVI. The Brangwyns
XVII. Watching the Lights Change
XVIII. The Illuminating and the Reflections
Features that Ought to he Noted by Day
Features that Ought to be Noted by Night
"The Pioneer Mother"
Design of the Exposition made in 1912
Site of the Exposition before Construction was Begun
Fountain of Youth
Fountain of El Dorado
Court of the Universe
"Air" and "Fire"
"Nations of the West" and "Nations of the Fast
"The Setting Sun" and "The Rising Sun"
"Music" and "Dancing Girls
"Hope and Her Attendants"
Star Figure; Medallion Representing "Art"
Spanish Plateresque Doorway, in Northern Wall
Eastern Entrance to Court of Four Seasons
Night View of Court of Four Seasons
Portal in Court of Four Seasons
The Marina at Night
Rotunda of the Palace of Fine Arts
Altar of Palace of Fine Arts
"The Power of the Arts"
Italian Fountain, Dome of Philosophy
Italian Renaissance Towers
"The End of the Trail"
Colonnade in Court of Palms
Entrance to Palace of Horticulture
Night View of the Palace of Horticulture
Festival Hall at Night
Fountain of Beauty and the Beast
Entrance to Palace of Varied Industries
Group above Doorway of Palace of Varied Industries
Avenue of Palms at Night
Avenue of Progress at Night
Arcaded Vestibule in Entrance to Palace of Machinery
"Genii of Machinery"
"The Genius of Creation"
Tower in Court of the Ages
Fountain of the Earth
"The Stone Age"
Entrance to Court of the Ages, at Night
"The Triumph of Rome"
"The Thirteenth Labor of Hercules"
In the main, this volume consists of articles originally published in
the San Francisco BULLETIN. It includes material gathered from many
visits to the Exposition grounds and from many talks with men concerned
in the organization and the building and ornamentation. The brief
history that forms the Introduction gives an account of the development.
For me, as, I presume, for most people, the thing done, no matter how
interesting it may he, is never so interesting as the doing of the
thing, the play of the forces behind. Even in the talk with the
architect, where the finished Exposition itself is discussed, I have
tried to keep in mind those forces, and wherever I could to indicate
The dialogue form I have used for several reasons: it is easy to follow;
it gives scope for more than one kind of opinion; and it deals with the
subject as we all do, when with one friend or more than one we visit the
Exposition grounds. It has been my good fortune to he able to see the
Exposition from points of view very different from my own and much
better informed and equipped. I am glad to pass on the advantage.
The Exposition is generally acknowledged to be an achievement
unprecedented. Merely to write about it and to try to convey a sense of
its quality is a privilege. I have valued it all the more because I know
that many people, not trained in matters of architecture and art, are
striving to relate themselves to the expression here, to understand it
and to feel it in all its hearings. If, at times, directly or in
indirectly, I have been critical, the reason is that I wished, in so far
as I could, to persuade visitors not to swallow the Exposition whole,
but to think about it for themselves, and to bear in mind that the men
behind it, those of today and those of days remote, were human beings
exactly like themselves, and to draw from it all they could in the way
of genuine benefit.
Though the volume is mainly devoted to the artistic features associated
with the courts and the main palaces, I have included, among the
illustrations, pictures of the California Building, both because of its
close relation to California and because it is in itself magnificent,
and of two notable art features, the mural painting by Bianca in the
Italian Building, and "The Thinker", by Rodin, in the court of the
The First Steps
In January, 1904, R. B. Hale of San Francisco wrote to his
fellow-directors of the Merchants' Association, that, in 1915, San
Francisco ought to hold an exposition to celebrate the opening of the
Panama Canal. In the financing of the St. Louis Exposition, soon to
begin, Mr. Hale found a model for his plan. Five million dollars should
be raised by popular subscription, five million dollars should be asked
from the State, and five million dollars should be provided by city
The idea was promptly endorsed by the business associations.
From their chairmen was formed a board of governors. It was decided that
the exposition should be held, and formal notification was given to the
world by introducing into Congress a bill that provided for an
appropriation of five million dollars. The bill was not acted on, and it
was allowed to die at the end of the session.
Soon after formulating the plan for the exposition Mr. Hale changed the
date from, 1915 to 1913, to make it coincide with the four hundredth
anniversary of the discovery by Balboa of the Pacific.
In 1906 came the earthquake and fire. The next few years San Franciscans
were busy clearing away the debris and rebuilding. It was predicted that
the city might recover in ten years, and might not recover in less than
Nevertheless, in December, 1906, within nine months of the disaster, a
meeting was held in the shack that served for the St. Francis Hotel, and
the Pacific Ocean Exposition Company was incorporated.
In three years the city recovered sufficiently to hold a week's
festival, the Portola, and to make it a success.
Two days afterward, in October, 1909, Mr. Hale gave a dinner to a small
group of business men, and told of what had been done toward preparing
for the Exposition. They agreed to help.
Shortly afterward a meeting was held at the Merchants' Exchange. It was
decided that an effort should at once be made to raise the money and to
rouse the people of San Francisco to the importance of the project of
holding the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in
As many as twenty-five hundred letters were sent to business men, asking
if they favored the idea of holding an exposition. Out of about eight
hundred replies only seven were opposed. Presently there were signs of
enthusiasm, reflected in the newspapers.
A committee of six representative business men was appointed and the
announcement was made that the committee should be glad to hear from
anyone in the city who had suggestions or grievances. It was determined
that every San Franciscan should have his day in court.
Later the committee of six appointed a foundation committee of two
hundred, representing a wide variety of interests.
The committee of two hundred chose a committee of three from outside
The committee of three chose from among the two hundred a directorate of
thirty. The thirty became the directorate of a new corporation, made in
1910, the Panama-Pacific International Exposition Company.
The Panama-Pacific Company two local millionaires, W. H. Crocker and W.
B. Bourn, started financially with twenty-five thousand dollars each.
They established the maximum individual subscription. They also secured
forty subscriptions of twenty-five thousand dollars each. Then followed
the call for a mass meeting. Before the meeting was held the business
men of the city were thoroughly canvassed. The Southern Pacific and the
Union Pacific together subscribed two hundred and fifty thousand
dollars. There were many other large subscriptions from public-service
On the afternoon of the meeting there was a crowd in the Merchants'
Exchange Board Room. The announcement of the subscriptions created
enthusiasm. In two hours the amount ran up to more than four million
dollars. During the next few years they were increased to about
Meanwhile, the State voted a tax levy of five million dollars, and San
Francisco voted a bond and issue of the same amount, and by an act of
the Legislature, in special session, the counties were authorized to
levy a small tax for county Participation, amounting, in estimate, to
about three million dollars.
Recognition From Congress
Next came the task of securing from Congress official recognition of San
Francisco as the site of the International Exposition in celebration of
the Panama Canal.
Headquarters were established in Washington. Presently serious
opposition developed. Emissaries went from San Francisco to Washington
singly and in delegations. Stress was laid on San Francisco's purpose
not to ask for an appropriation from the national government. There were
several cities in competition - Boston, Washington, Baltimore and New
Orleans. New Orleans proved the most formidable rival. It relied on the
strength of of a united Democracy and of the solid South.
In the hearings before the Congressional Committee it was made plain
that the decision would go to the city with the best financial showing.
As soon as the decision was announced New Orleans entered into generous
cooperation with San Francisco.
The Exposition was on the way.
Naming the President.
The offer of the presidency of the Exposition Company was made to a
well-known business man of San Francisco, C. C. Moore. Besides being
able and energetic, he was agreeable to the factions created by the
graft prosecution of a half dozen years before. Like the board of
directors, he was to serve without salary. He stipulated that in the
conduct of the work there should be no patronage. With the directors he
entered into an a agreement that all appointments should be made for
Choosing the Site
The choice of site was difficult. The sites most favored were Lake
Merced, Golden Gate Park and Harbor View. Lake Merced was opposed as
inaccessible for the transportation both of building materials and of
people, and, through its inland position, as an unwise choice for an
Exposition on the Pacific Coast, in its nature supposed to be maritime.
The use of the park, it was argued, would desecrate the peoples
recreation ground and entail a heavy cost in leveling and in restoring.
Harbor View and the Presidio had several advantages. It was level. It
was within two miles or walking distance of nearly half the city's
inhabitants. It stood on the bay, close to the Golden Gate, facing one
of the most beautiful harbors in the world, looking across to Mount
Tamalpias and backed by the highest San Francisco hills. Of all the
proposed sites, it was the most convenient for landing material by
water, for arranging the buildings and for maintaining sanitary
After a somewhat bitter public controversy the Exposition directors, in
July, 1911, announced a decision. It caused general surprise. There
should be three sites: Harbor View and a strip of the adjoining
Presidio, Golden Gate Park and Lincoln Park, connected by a boulevard,
specially constructed to skirt the bay from the ferry to the ocean.
That plan proved to be somewhat romantic. The boulevard alone, it was
estimated, would cost eighteen million dollars.
Harris D. H. Connick, the assistant city engineer was called on as a
representative of the Board of Public Works, and asked to make a
preliminary survey of Harbor View. He showed that, of the proposed
sites, Harbor View would be the most economical. The cost of
transporting lumber would be greatly reduced by having it all come
through the Golden Gate and deposited on the Harbor View docks. The
expense of filling in the small ponds there would be slight in
comparison with the expense of leveling the ground at the park.
A few weeks later Harbor View and the Presidia was definitely decided on
as the site, and the only site.
For months agents had been at work securing options on leases of
property in Harbor View, covering a little more than three hundred
acres, the leases to run into December 1915. Reasonable terms were
offered and in one instance only was there resort to condemnation. The
suit that followed forced the property owner, who had refused fifteen
hundred dollars, to take nine hundred dollars. President Moore was
tempted to pay the fifteen hundred dollars, but he decided that this
course would only encourage other property owners to be extortionate.
Some trouble was experienced with the Vanderbilt properties, part of
which happened to be under water. After considerable negotiating and
appeals to the public spirit of the owners, it was adjusted. About seven
hundred thousand dollars was paid for leases and about three hundred
thousand dollars for property bought outright.
The Director of Works
While President Moore was looking for the man he wanted to appoint as
head of the board of construction, Harris D. H. Connick called to
suggest and to recommend another man. Later the president offered
Connick the position as director of works.
Connick had exactly the qualifications needed: experience, youth,
energy, skill and executive ability. He hesitated for the reason that he
happened to be engaged in public work that he wished to finish. But he
was made to see that the new work was more important. He removed all the
buildings at Harbor View, about 150, and he filled in the ponds, using
two million cubic yards of mud and sand, and building an elaborate
system of sewers. The filling in took about six months. On the last day
mules were at work on the new land. And within a year the ground work
and the underground work was finished.
Meanwhile, President Moore asked for a meeting of the San Francisco
Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, with more than 250
members. He explained that his purpose was to have them, select twelve
representatives from whom he should himself appoint five to act as an
architectural board. When the board was formed with Willis Polk at its
head, it included John Galen Howard, Albert Pissis, William Curlett, and
Clarence R. Ward. This board was dissolved and an executive council
composed of Polk, Ward and W. B. Faville was put in charge. Later it
gave way to a commission consisting of W. B. Faville, Arthur Brown,
George W. Kelham, Louis Christian Mullgardt, and Clarence R. Ward, of
San Francisco; Robert Farquhar, of Los Angeles; Carrere & Hastings,
McKim, Mead & White, and Henry Bacon, of New York, When it had completed
the preliminary plans the board discontinued its meetings and G. W.
Kelham was appointed Chief of Architecture.
The Block Plan
At the first meeting President Moore explained that, at the St. Louis
Exposition, according to wide-expressed opinions, the buildings had been
too far apart. He favored maximum of space with minimum of distance. The
architects first considered the conditions they had to meet, climate and
physical surroundings. They were mainly influenced by wind, cold and
The result was that for the Protection of visitors, they agreed to
follow what was later to be generally known, as the block plan, the
buildings arranged in, four blocks, joined by covered corridors and
surrounded by a wall, with three central courts and two half-courts in
the south wall. It had been developed in many talks among the
architects. Valuable suggestions came from Willis Polk and from E. H.
Bennett, of Chicago, active in the earlier consultations. The plan
finally accepted was the joint work of the entire commission.
Twelve buildings were put under contract, each designed to illustrate an
epoch of architecture, ranging from the severity of the early classic to
the ornate French renaissance of to-day.
From the start it was realized that, vast as the Exposition was to be,
representing styles of architecture almost sensationally different, it
must nevertheless suggest that it was all of a piece. The relation of
San Francisco to the Orient provided the clue. It was fitting that on
the shores of San Francisco Bay, where ships to and from the Orient were
continually plying, there should rise an Oriental city. The idea had a
special appeal in providing a reason for extensive color effects. The
bay, in spite of the California sunshine, somewhat bleak, needed to be
helped out with color. The use of color by the Orientals had abundantly
justified itself as an integral part of architecture. The Greeks and the
Romans had accepted it and applied it even in their statuary. It was,
moreover, associated with those Spanish and Mexican buildings
characteristic of the early days of California history.
The General Arrangement
The general arrangement of the Exposition presented no great
difficulties. The lay of the land helped. Interest, of course, had to
center in the palaces and the Festival Hall, with their opportunities
for architectural display. They naturally took the middle ground. And,
of course, they had to be near the State buildings and the foreign
pavilions. The amusement concessions, it was felt, ought to be in a
district by themselves, at one end. Equally sequestered should be the
livestock exhibit and the aviation field and the race track, which were
properly placed at the opposite end. There would undoubtedly be many
visitors concerned chiefly, if not wholly, with the central buildings.
If they chose, they could visit this section without going near the
other sections, carrying away in their minds memories of a city ideal in
outline and in coloring.
As soon as the plans were decided on, the architects divided the work
and separated. Those who had come from a distance went home and in a few
months submitted their designs in detail. A few months later they
returned to San Francisco and the meetings of the architectural board
were resumed. Soon the modifications were made and the practical
construction was ready to begin. Incidentally there were compromises and
heartburnings. But limitations of funds had to be considered. Finally
came the question of the tower, giving what the architects called "the
big accent." There were those who favored the north side for the
location. Others favored the south side. After considerable discussion
the south side was chosen. At one of the meetings, Thomas Hastings did
quick work with his pencil, outlining his idea of what the tower should
be. Later, he submitted an elaborate plan. It was rejected. A second
plan was rejected, too. The third was accepted. It cost five hundred
Designs for two magnificent gateways, to be erected at the approaches to
the Court of the Ages and the Court of the Four Seasons were considered.
They had to be given up to save expense.
Clearing The Land
The task of clearing the land was finished in a few months. In addition
to the government reserve, the Exposition had seventy-six city blocks.
They represented two hundred parcels of land, with 175 owners, and
contained four hundred dwellings, barns and improvements. Most of the
buildings were torn down. A few were used elsewhere. Precautions were
taken to re-enforce with piles the foundations of the buildings and of
the heavy exhibits.
The director of works became responsible for the purchase of all the
lumber to be used in building. It was bought wholesale, shipped from the
sawmills and delivered to the sites. So there was a big saving here,
through the buying in bulk and through reduced cost in handling and
hauling. The first contracts given out were for the construction of the
palaces. An estimate was made of the exact number of feet available for
exhibits and charts were prepared to keep a close record on the progress
of the work. Incidentally, other means of watching progress consisted of
the amounts paid out each month. During the earlier months the
expenditures went on at the rate of a million a month. Every three weeks
a contract for a building would be given out. The same contractors
figured on each building. From the start it was understood that the work
should be done by union men. The chief exceptions were the Chinese and
the Japanese. The exhibitors had the privilege of bringing their own
men. In all about five thousand men were employed, working either eight
or nine hours a day. During the progress of the work there were few
One wise feature of the planning lay in the economy of space. It
succeeded in reaching a compactness that made for convenience without
leading to overcrowding. Great as this Exposition was to be, in its
range worthy to be included among the expositions of the first class, it
should not weary the visitors by making them walk long distances from
point to point. In spite of its magnitude, it should have a kind of
Choice of Material
There were certain dangers that the builders of the Exposition had to
face. One of the most serious was that buildings erected for temporary
use only might look tawdry. It was, of course, impracticable to use
stone. The cost would have been prohibitive, and plaster might have made
the gorgeous palaces hardly more than cheap mockeries.
Under the circumstances it was felt that some new material must be
devised to meet the requirements. Already Paul E. Denneville had been
successful in working with material made in imitation of Travertine
marble, used in many of the ancient buildings of Rome, very beautiful
in texture and peculiarly suited to the kind of building that needed
color. He it was who had used the material in the Pennsylvania Station,
New York, in the upper part of the walls. After a good deal of
experimenting Denneville had found that for his purpose gypsum rock was
most serviceable. On being ground and colored it could be used as a
plaster and made to seem in texture so close to Travertine marble as to
be almost indistinguishable. The results perfectly justified his faith.
As the palaces rose from the ground, making a magnificent walled city,
they looked solid and they looked old and they had distinct character.
Moreover, through having the color in the texture, they would not show
broken and ragged surfaces.
The Color Scheme
For the color-effects it was felt that just the right man must be found
or the result would be disastrous. The choice fell on Jules Guerin, long
accepted as one of the finest colorists among the painters of his time.
He followed the guidance of the natural conditions surrounding the
Exposition, the hues of the sky and the bay, of the mountains, varying
from deep green to tawny yellow, and of the morning and evening light.
And he worked, too, with an eye on those effects of illumination that
should make the scene fairyland by night, utilizing even the tones of
There was no difficulty in finding a man best suited to plan the
garden that was to serve as the Exposition's setting. For many years
John McLaren had been known as one of the most distinguished
horticulturists in this part of the world. As superintendent of Golden
Gate Park he had given fine service. Moreover, he was familiar with the
conditions and understood the resources and the possibilities. Of course
a California exposition had to maintain California's reputation for
natural beauty. It must be placed in on ideal garden, representing the
marvelous endowment of the State in trees and shrubs and plants and
flowers and showing what the climate could do even with alien growths.
The first step that McLaren took was to consult the architects. They
explained to him the court plan that they had agreed on and they gave
him the dimensions of their buildings. Against walls sixty feet high he
planned to place trees that should reach nearly to the top. For his
purpose he found four kinds of trees most serviceable: the eucalyptus,
the cypress, the acacia and the spruce. In his search for what he wanted
he did not confine himself to California. A good many trees he brought
down from Oregon. Some of his best specimens of Italian cypress he
secured in Santa Barbara, in Monterey and in San Jose. He also drew
largely on Golden Gate Park and on the Presidio. In all he used about
thirty thousand trees, more than two-thirds eucalyptus and acacia.
Preparing the Landscape
Two years before the Exposition was to open McLaren built six
greenhouses in the Presidia and a huge lath house. There he assembled
his shrubs, his plants, and his bulbs. In all he must have used nearly a
million bulbs. From Holland he imported seventy thousand rhododendrons.
From Japan he brought two thousand azaleas. In Brazil he secured some
wonderful specimens of the cineraria. He even sent to Africa for the
agrapanthus, that grew close to the Nile. Among native flowers he
collected six thousand pansies, ten thousand veronicas and five thousand
junipers, to mention only, a few among the multitude a flowers that he
intended to use for decoration. The grounds he had carefully mapped and
he studied the landscape and the shape and color of the buildings
section, by section.
The planting of trees consumed many months. The best effects McLaren
found he could get by massing. He was particularly successful with the
magnificent Fine Arts Palace, both in his groupings and in his use of
individual trees. About the lagoon he did some particularly attractive
planting, utilizing the water for reflection. There was a twisted
cypress that he placed alone against the colonnade with a skill that
showed the insight and the feeling of an, artist. On, the water side,
the Marina, he used the trees to break the bareness of the long
esplanade. And here and there on the grounds, for pure decoration, he
reached some of his finest effects with the eucalyptus, for which he
evidently had a particular regard. As no California Exposition would be
complete without palm trees, provision was made for the decorative use
of palms along of the main walks.
About two weeks before the opening, the first planting of the gardens
was completed, the first of the three crops to be displayed during the
Exposition. The flowers included most of the spring flowers grown here
in California or capable of thriving in the California spring climate.
In June they were to be re-placed with geraniums, begonias, asters,
gilly-flowers, foxglove, hollyhocks, lilies and rhododendrons. The
autumn display, would include cosmos and chrysanthemums and marguerites.
As the work proceeded, W. B. Faville, the architect, of Bliss and
Faville, made a suggestion for the building of a fence that should look
as if it were moss-covered with age. The result was that developing the
suggestion McLaren devised a new kind of hedge likely to be used the
world over. It was made of boxes, six feet long and two feet wide,
containing, a two-inch layer of earth, held in place by a wire netting,
and planted with South African dew plant, dense, green and hardy and
thriving in this climate. Those boxes, when piled to a height of several
feet, made a rustic wall of great beauty, Moreover, they could be
continuously irrigated by a one-inch perforated line of pipe. In certain
lights the water trickling through the leaves shimmered like gems. In
summer the plant would produce masses of small purple flowers.
McLaren found his experiment so successful that he decided to build a
hedge twenty feet high, extending more than a thousand feet. He also
used the hedge extensively in the landscape design for the Palace of
The department of sculpture was placed under the direction of one of the
most distinguished sculptors in the country. Karl Bitter, of New York,
whose death from an automobile accident took place a few weeks after the
Exposition opened. He gathered around him an extraordinary array of
co-operators, including many of the most brilliant names in the world of
art, with A. Stirling Calder as the acting chief, the man on the ground.
Though he did not contribute any work of his own, he was active in
developing the work as a whole, taking special pains to keep it in
character and to see that, even in it its diversity, it gave the
impression, of harmony.
Calder welcomed the chance to work on a big scale and to carry out big
ideas. With Bitter he visited San Francisco in August, 1912, for a
consultation with the architectural commission. Minutely they went over
the site and examined the architectural plans. Then they picked the
sculptors that they wished to secure as co-operators.
In December, 1912, Bitter and Calder made another visit to San Francisco
for further conferring with the architectural commission, bearing
sketches and scale models. Bitter explained his plans in detail and
asked for an appropriation. He was told that he should be granted six
hundred thousand dollars. The amount was gradually reduced till it
finally reached three hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars.
It was at this period that Calder submitted his plan for the Column of
Progress. He had worked it out in New York and had the scale models made
by MacNeil and Konti. It won the approval of McKim, Mead & White, who
declared that it made an ideal feature of the approach from the bay side
to their Court of the Universe, then called the Court of the Sun and
The next few months of preparation in New York meant getting the
sculptors together and working out the designs. The first meeting of the
sculptors took place in January, 1913, in Bitter's studio, with a
remarkable array of personages in attendance, including D. C. French,
Herbert Adams, Robert Aitken, James E. Fraser, H. A. MacNeil, A. A.
Weinman, Mahonri Young, Isidore Konti, Mrs. Burroughs and several
others. In detail Bitter explained the situation in San Francisco and
outlined his ideas of what ought to be done. Already Henry Bacon had
sent in his design for his Court of the Four Seasons and sculptors were
set to work on its ornamentation, Albert Jaegers, Furio Piccirilli, Miss
Evelyn Beatrice Longman and August Jaegers, a time limit being made for
the turning in of their plans.
Developing the Sculpture
In June, 1913, Calder returned to San Francisco to stay till the
Exposition was well started. On the grounds he established a huge
workshop. Then he began the practical developing of the designs, a great
mass, which had already been carefully sifted. Hitherto, in American
expositions the work had been done, for the most part, in New York, and
sent to its destination by freight, a method costly in itself and all
the more costly on account of the inevitable breakage. San Francisco,
by being so far from New York, would have been a particularly expensive
destination. From every point of view it seemed imperative that the work
should be done here.
In a few weeks that shop was a hive of industry, with sculptors,
students of sculpture front the art schools, pointers, and a multitude
of other white-clad workers bending all their energies toward the
completion on time of their colossal task. A few of the sculptors and
artisans Calder had brought from New York. But most of the workers he
secured in San Francisco, chiefly from the foreign population, some of
them able to speak little or no English.
The modeling of the replicas of well-known art works were, almost
without exception, made in clay. Most of the original work was directly
modelled in plaster-staff used so successfully throughout the
Exposition. For the enlarging of single pieces and groups the pointing
machine of Robert Paine was chosen by Calder. It was interesting to see
it at work, under the guidance of careful and patient operators, tracing
mechanically the outlines and reproducing them on a magnified scale. For
the finishing of the friezes the skill of the artist was needed, and
there Calder found able assistants in the two young sculptors, Roth and
Lentelli, who worked devotedly themselves and directed groups of
In all the sculpture Calder strove to keep in mind the significance of
the Exposition and the spirit of the people who were celebrating. With
him styles of architecture and schools were a minor consideration, to
be left to the academicians and the critics. He believed that sculpture,
like all other art-forms, was chiefly valuable and interesting as human
The Decorative Figures
Less successful on the whole than the blending of sculpture and
architecture were the individual figures designed to be placed against
the walls. Some of them were extremely well done. Others were obvious
disappointments. The unsophisticated judgment, free from Continental
bias, might have objected to the almost gratuitous use of nudity. For a
popular exhibition, even the widely-traveled and broad-minded art
lover might have been persuaded that a concession to prejudice could
have been made without any great damage to art.
In the magnificent entrance to the grounds it was deemed fitting that
the meaning of the Exposition should be symbolized by an elaborate
fountain. So in the heart of the South Gardens there was placed the
Fountain of Energy, the design of A. Stirling Calder, the athletic
figure of a youth, mounted on a fiery horse, tearing across the globe,
which served for pedestal, the symbolic figures of Valor and Fame
accompanying on either side. The work, as a whole suggested the triumph
of man in overcoming the difficulties in the way, of uniting the two
oceans. It made one of the most striking of all the many fountains on
the grounds, the dolphins in the great basin, some of them carrying
female figures on their backs, contributing to an effect peculiarly
The Column of Progress
The Column of Progress, suggested by Calder and planned in outline by
Symmes Richardson, besides being beautiful symbol and remarkably
successful in outline, was perhaps the most poetic and original of all
the achievements of the sculptors here. It represented something new in
being the first great column erected to express a purely imaginative and
idealistic conception. Most columns of its kind had celebrated some
great figure or historic feat, usually related to war. But this column
stood for those sturdy virtues that were developed, not through the
hazards and the excitements and the fevers of conquest, but through the
persistent and homely tests of peace, through the cultivation of those
qualities that laid the foundations of civilized living. Isidore Konti
designed the frieze typifying the swarming generations, by Matthew
Arnold called "the teeming millions of men," and to Hermon A. MacNeil
fell the task of developing the circular frieze of toilers, sustaining
the group at the top, three strong figures, the dominating male, ready
to shoot his arrow straight alit to its mark, a male supporter, and the
devoted woman, eager to follow in the path of advance.
The Aim of the Sculptors
It was evidently the aim of the sculptors to express in their work, in
so far as they could, the character of the Exposition. And the breadth
of the plans gave them, a wide scope. They must have welcomed the chance
to exercise their art for the pleasure of the multitude, an art
essentially popular in its appeal and certain to be more and more
cultivated in our every-day life. Though this new city was to be for a
year only, it would surely influence the interest and the taste in art
of the multitudes destined to become familiar with it and to carry away
more or less vivid impressions.
The sculpture, too, would have a special advantage. Much of it, after
the Exposition, could be transferred elsewhere. It was safe to predict
that the best pieces would ultimately serve for the permanent adornment
of San Francisco - by no means rich in monuments.
It was felt by the builders of the Exposition that mural decorating
must be a notable feature.
The Centennial Exposition of '76 had been mainly an expression of
engineering. Sixteen years later architecture had dominated the
Exposition in Chicago. The Exposition in San Francisco was to be
essentially pictorial, combining, in its exterior building,
architecture, sculpture and painting.
When Jules Guerin was selected to apply the color it was decided that he
should choose the mural decorators, subject to the approval of the
architectural board. The choice fell on men already distinguished. all
of them belonging to New York, with two exceptions, Frank Brangwyn of
London, and Arthur Mathews, of San Francisco. They were informed by
Guerin that they could take their own subjects. He contented himself
with saying that a subject with meaning and life in it was an asset.
In New York the painters had a conference with Guerin. He explained the
conditions their work was to meet. Emphasis was laid on the importance
of their painting with reference to the tone of the Travertine. They
were instructed, moreover, to paint within certain colors, in harmony
with the general color-scheme, a restriction that, in some cases, must
have presented difficult problems.
The preliminary sketches were submitted to Guerin, and from the sketches
he fixed the scale of the figures. In one instance the change of scale
led to a change of subject. The second sketches were made on a larger
scale. When they were accepted the decorators were told that the final
canvases were to be painted in San Francisco in order to make sure that
they did not conflict with one another and that they harmonized with the
general plan of the Exposition. Nearly all the murals were finished in
Machinery Hall; but most of them had been started before they arrived
Painting For Out-Doors
Some concern was felt by the painters on account of their lack of
experience in painting for out-of-doors. There was no telling, even by
the most careful estimate, how their canvases would look when in place.
Color and design impressive in a studio might, when placed beside
vigorous architecture, become weak and pale. Besides, in this instance,
the murals would meet new conditions in having to harmonize with
architecture that was already highly colored. Furthermore, no two of the
canvases would meet exactly the same conditions and, as a result of the
changes in light and atmospheric effects, the conditions would be subject
to continual change. Finally, they were obliged to work without precedent.
It was true that the early Italians had done murals for the open air,
but no examples had been preserved.
That the painters were able to do as well as they did under the
limitations reflected credit on their adaptability and good humor. The
truth was they felt the tremendous opportunity afforded their art by
this Exposition. They believed that in a peculiar sense it testified to
the value of color in design. It represented a new movement in art, with
far-reaching possibilities for the future. That some of them suffered as
a result of the limiting of initiative and individuality, of
subordination to the general scheme, was unquestionable. Some of the
canvases that looked strong and fine when they were assembled for the
last touches in Machinery Hall became anaemic and insignificant on the
walls. Those most successfully met the test where the colors were in
harmony with Guerin's coloring and where they were in themselves strong
and where the subjects were dramatic and vigorously handled. The
allegorical and the primitive subjects failed to carry, first because
they had little or no real significance, and secondly because the spirit
behind them was lacking in appeal and, occasionally, in sincerity.
In one regard Frank Brangwyn was more fortunate than the other painters.
His murals, though intended to be displayed in the open air, were to
hang in sequestered corners of the corridors running around the Court of
the Ages, the court, moreover, that was to have no color. Besides, there
were no colors in the world that could successfully compete against his
powerful blues and reds.
The lighting of the Exposition, it was determined, should be given to
the charge of the greatest expert in the country. Several of the leading
electric light companies were consulted. They agreed that the best man
was Walter D'Arcy Ryan, who had managed the lighting at the
Hudson-Fulton Celebration and at the Niagara Falls Exposition. Mr. Ryan
explained his system of veiled lighting, with the source of the light
hidden, and made plain its suitability to an Exposition where the
artistic features were to be notable, and where they were to be
emphasized at night, with the lighting so diffused as to avoid shadows.
After his appointment as director of illuminating he made several visits
to San Francisco, and a year before the opening of the Exposition, he
returned to stay till the close. His plan of ornamenting the main tower
with large pieces of cut glass, of many colors, to shine like jewels,
created wide-spread interest on account of its novelty. It was generally
regarded as a highly original and sensational Exposition feature.
Watching the Growth
As the building went on the San Franciscans gradually became alive to
the splendor. Each Sunday many thousands would assemble on the grounds.
About a year before the date set for the opening an admission fee of
twenty-five cents brought several thousands of dollars each week. On the
Sundays when Lincoln Beachey made his sensational flights there would
often be not less than fifty thousand people looking on.
The Walled City
If there were any critics who feared that the walled city might present
a certain monotony of aspect they did not take into account the Oriental
luxuriance of the entrances, breaking the long lines and making splendid
contrast of design and of color. Those entrances alone were worth minute
study. Besides being beautiful, they had historic significance.
Furthermore, the long walls were broken by artistically designed windows
and by groups of trees running along the edge. Within the walls, in the
splendidly wrought courts, utility was made an expression, of beauty by
means of the impressive colonnades, solid rows of columns, delicately
colored, suitable for promenading and for protection against rain.
From the hills looking down on the bay the Exposition began to seem
somewhat huddled. But the nearer one approached, the plainer it became
that this effect was misleading. On the grounds one felt that there was
plenty of room to move about in. And there was no sense of incongruity.
Very adroitly styles of architecture that might have seemed to be alien
to one another and hostile had been harmoniously blended. Here the color
was a great help. It made the Exposition seem all of a piece.
In the summer of 1914 the Exposition received what for a brief time,
looked like a crushing blow in the declaration of war. How could the
world be interested in such an enterprise when the great nations of
Europe were engaged in what might prove to be the most deadly conflict
The directors, in reviewing the situation, saw that, far from being a
disadvantage in its effect on their plans, the war might be an
advantage. In the first place, it would keep at home the great army of
American travelers that went to Europe each year. With their fondness
for roaming, they would be almost certain to be drawn to this part of
the world. And besides, there were other travelers to be considered,
including those Europeans who would be glad to get away from the alarms
of war and those South Americans who were in the habit of going to
Europe. Furthermore, though the Exposition had been designed to
commemorate the services of the United States Army in building the
Panama Canal, it was essentially dedicated to the arts of peace. It
would show what the world could do when men and nations co-operated.
The Department of Fine Arts
Meanwhile, the war was upsetting the plans for the exhibits, notably the
exhibit of painting and sculpture.
When John E. D. Trask, for many years director of the Pennsylvania
Academy of Fine Arts, was appointed Director of the Fine Arts Department
at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, he had made a careful
survey of the field he had to cover. It virtually consisted of the whole
civilized world. After arranging for the formulation of committees in
the leading cities of the East and the Middle West to secure American
work, he made a trip to Europe, visiting England, France, Holland,
Sweden, Germany, Hungary, Austria and Italy. With the exception of
England and Germany, the governments were sympathetic. The indifference
of those two countries was at the time was not quite comprehensible.
There might have been several explanations, including the threat of war.
There were also those who said that England and Germany had entered into
a secret alliance against this country for the purpose of minimizing the
American influence in commerce, soon to be strengthened by the opening
of the Panama Canal. Wherever the truth lay, the fact remained that both
countries maintained their attitude of indifference. Individual English
and German artists and organizations of artists, however, showed a
willingness to co-operate.
Through emissaries, mainly unofficial, Americans of influence, Trask
drew on the resources of all Europe. He also entered into negotiations
with China and Japan, both of which countries, with their devotion to
art, as might have been expected, co-operated with enthusiasm. The
display at the Fine Arts Palace promised to make one of the greatest
international exhibits in history, if not the greatest.
At the outbreak of the war it looked as if the whole of Europe might
become involved and it might be impossible to secure anything that could
properly be called a European art exhibit. Meanwhile, the space reserved
for the European exhibitors must he filled. It happened that, at the
time, Trask was in the East. He quickly put himself into personal
communication with the New York artists, who had been invited to send
three or four works, and he asked them to increase the number. He also
arranged with his committee for the securing of a much larger number of
American pictures. Under the circumstances he was bound to rely on the
discretion of his juries. The result was that he had to take what came.
It included a large number of excellent works and others of doubtful
An Emissary to France and Italy
Meanwhile, during the few months after the outbreak of war, the art
situation in Europe began to look more hopeful. It seemed possible that
some of the nations concerned in the war would be persuaded to
participate. Captain Asher C. Baker, Director of the Division of
Exhibits, was sent on a special mission to France, sailing from New York
early in November. The United States collier "Jason" was then preparing
to sail from New York with Christmas presents for the children in the
war zone, and the secretary of the navy had arranged with the Exposition
authorities that, on the return trip, the ship should be used to carry
exhibits from Europe. The first plan was that the exhibits should come
only from the warring nations; it was later extended to include other
In Paris Captain Baker found the situation discouraging. The first
official he saw told him that, under the circumstances, any
participation of France whatsoever was out of the question: France was
in mourning, and did not wish to celebrate anything; if any Frenchman
were to suggest participation he would be criticised; furthermore, Albert
Tirman, at the head of the French committee that had visited San
Francisco the year before to select the site of the French Pavilion, had
come back from the front in the Vosges and was hard at work in the
barracks of the Invalides, acting as an intermediary between the civil
and military authorities.
Then Captain Baker appealed to Ambassador Myron T. Herrick. Although the
ambassador was enthusiastic for the Exposition, he said that, in such a
crisis, he could not ask France to spend the four hundred thousand
dollars set apart for use in San Francisco. Captain Baker said: "Don't
you think if France came in at this time a wonderfully sympathetic
effect would be created all over the United States?" The ambassador
replied, "I do." "Wouldn't you like to see France participate?" The
ambassador declared that he would. "Will you say so to Mr. Tirman?" The
ambassador said, "Willingly."
A week later Baker and Tirman were on their way to Bordeaux to see
Gaston Thomson, Minister of Commerce. They made these proposals: The
exhibits should be carried by the Jason through the canal to San
Francisco; the building of the French Pavilion should be undertaken by
the Division of Works of the Exposition, on specification to be cabled
to San Francisco of the frame work, the moulds for the columns and
architectural ornaments to be prepared in France and shipped by express;
the French committee of organization was to work in France among
possible exhibitors; a statement was to be made to the ministry of what
each department of the government could do in sending exhibits and what
exhibits were ready; a statement should come from the Minister of Fine
Arts as to how much space he could occupy and how many paintings could
be secured for the Palace of Fine Arts; a complete representation of the
Department of Historical Furniture and Tapestries, known as the Garde
Meuble, was to be made for the pavilion.
In the interview with the Minister of Commerce Baker argued that,
without France, an Exposition could not be international, and that the
participation of France at this time, with her flag flying in San
Francisco, would be like winning a battle before the world. It would
show the people of the United States France's gratitude for the money
sent the wounded and the suffering, and would warm the hearts of the
Thomson responded with enthusiasm, and soon the government became
enthusiastic. Several thousand dollars were spent in cabling; Henri
Guillaume, the distinguished French architect, experienced in many
expositions, was sent out. When the Jason stopped at Marseilles it took,
on board one of the most remarkable collections of art treasures ever
shipped to a foreign country, the finest things in one of the world's
great storehouses of treasure, including even the priceless historical
tapestries, and a large collection of French paintings for the Fine Arts
Palace, gathered by the French committee after great labor, due to the
absence of many of the painters in the war.
When Captain Baker left France he had accomplished far more for the
Exposition than he realized himself. Reports of his success in securing
French participation preceded him to Italy and helped to prepare the
way. The Italians listened to his proposition, all the more willingly
because France had been won over. Besides, he had a warm supporter in
Ernesto Nathan, ex-Mayor of Rome, who had paid an extended visit to San
Francisco and had become an enthusiastic champion of the Exposition. In
a few days he had made arrangements that led to the collection of the
splendid display of Italian art, shipped on the Vega, together with many
commercial exhibits. Captain Bakers work in France and in Italy,
accomplished within three weeks, was a triumph of diplomacy.
Foreign Participation in General
Germany was not to be completely over-shadowed by France notwithstanding
previous indifference on the part of the government. German
manufacturers wished to be represented, and they actually received
governmental encouragement. Austrians, not to be outdone by Italy,
unofficially came in. In fact, despite the war, every country had
some representation, England and Scandinavia and Switzerland included,
even if they did not have official authority.
There are those who maintain that, in spite of criticism, the Fine Arts
Department is now making a better showing than it could have made if
there had been no war. American collectors, with rare canvases, were
persuaded to help in the meeting of the emergency by lending work that,
otherwise, they would have kept at home. It was thought that many of the
Europeans would be glad to send their collections to this country for
safe keeping during war time. But such proved not to be the case. A good
deal of concern was felt about sending the treasures on so long a
journey, subject to the hazards of attack by sea. Furthermore, from the
European point of view, San Francisco seemed far away.
Looking for Art Treasures
A short time after Captain Baker sailed from New York another emissary
went abroad for the Exposition, J. N. Laurvik, the art critic. A few
weeks before Mr. Laurvik had returned from Europe, where he had
represented the Fine Arts Department, looking for the work of the
artists in those countries that were not to participate officially. At
the time of the outbreak he was in Norway and he had already secured the
promise of many collections and the co-operation of artists of
distinction. His report of the situation as he left it persuaded the
authorities that, in spite of the difficulties, he might do effective
When Laurvik arrived in Rome he found that Captain Baker had already
prepared for his activities. Ernesto Nathan was devoting himself heart
and soul to the cause. But the Italian authorities, for the most part,
were absorbed in the questions that came up with the threat of war.
Working with the committee, and aided by Ambassador Thomas Nelson Page,
Laurvik quickly made progress. He secured magnificent canvases by the
President of the French Academy in Rome, Albert Besnard, painted, for
the most part, in Benares, with scenes on the Ganges, and a collection
of pieces by the Norwegian sculptor, Lerche.
From Rome Laurvik went to Venice, where he was greatly helped by the
American consul, B. H. Carroll, Jr. Though the International Exhibit
held in Venice every two years had closed several months before, many of
the works of art were still there, their owners, either afraid or unable
to take them away and yet concerned about their being so close to the
scene of war. It was the general concern that enabled Laurvik to secure
some of his finest material. Together with the Italian work, he arranged
to have shipped here on the Jason, Norwegian and Hungarian paintings and
fifty canvases by the man regarded as the greatest living painter in
Finland, Axel Gallen-Kallela. He also made a short journey from Venice
to the home of Marinetti, the journalist, poet and leader of the.
Italian Futurist painters, who, after much persuading, promised to send
fifty examples of the work done by the ten leaders in his group.
On leaving Venice Laurvik started for Vienna. In spite of the war, he
was promised support by the Minister of Art. Unfortunately, the art
societies fell to quarreling, and gave little or no help. Then Laurvik
appealed to the artists themselves. In Kakosha, one of the best known
among the Austrian painters, he found an ally. The collection he made in
Vienna included several of Kakosha's canvases, lent by their owners, and
a large number of etchings.
The Hungarian Collection
In Hungary Laurvik had a powerful friend in Count Julius Andrassy, a
man, of wealth and influence, the owner of one of the newspapers
published in Budapest. From, his own collection of Hungarian art
Andrassy made a large contribution and he inspired other collectors to
do likewise. The getting together of the material was full of
difficulties. Much of it had been taken away for safekeeping. The
museums were all closed and some of their treasures were buried in the
ground. Already the Russians, during their raid on the Carpathian
Mountains, had possessed themselves of rare art works, some of the best
canvases cut from the frames and carried off by the officials. Among the
sufferers was Count Andrassy himself, who lost valuable heirlooms from
one of his country estates, including several Titians. In spite of that
experience, Andrassy, refused to hide his possessions. He preferred the
risk of losing them to showing fear, perhaps helping to start a panic.
The Hungarian collection came near missing the Jason. It was
mysteriously held up in the train that carried it through the Italian
territory to Italy, arriving in Genoa three days after the Jason was
scheduled to so sail from there. But the Jason happened to be delayed
three days, too.
By the German steamer, the "Crown Princess Cecilie," it happened that an
interesting collection of German Paintings, after being exhibited in the
Carnegie Institute of Pittsburgh, was started on the way to Germany; but
the war caused the ship to return to an American port. After a good deal
of negotiating the canvases were secured for the Exposition and taken
off the ship.
On the opening day of the Exposition it was found that the Palace of
Fine Arts, far from having too little material, had too much. Not only
were China and Japan and several of the European nations well
represented, but on the way were many art works that there would not be
room for. The consequence was that a new building had to be erected. It
was finished in July and it became known as the Fine Arts Annex.
The View From the Hill
"The best way to see the Exposition, in my opinion," said the architect,
"is to stand on the top of the Fillmore Street hill and look down. Then
you will find out what the architects were up to. The finest point of
observation would be at the corner of Divisadero Street and Broadway."
The next day, as we stood at that point, the Exposition stretched out
beneath us like a city of the Orient.
"When the architects first discussed the construction they knew it was
to be looked at from these hills. So they had to have a scheme that
should hide the skylight and avoid showing lack of finish on top and
that should be pictorial and impressive from above. One of the problems
was to make the roof architectural. Now as we look down, see how
stunning the effect is - like a Persian rug."
"And the color helped there, too, didn't it?"
"Of course. And notice how skilfully the architecture and the coloring
harmonized. As the Exposition was to be built on low, flat ground, it
had to be lifted up. One way was by using the domes. The central portion
of each of those palaces was lifted above the main surface of the roof
to introduce a row of semi-circular windows to light the interior like a
church. And the domes, besides being ornamental in themselves, gave
spring to the towers. The big tower provided scope for the splendid
archway that served as an approach and set the standard for the other
It was plain enough that the top of the Exposition had not received the
praise it deserved. "Think how crude that scene would have been if it
had presented a straggling mass of roofs. And even as it is, with its
graceful lines, if it were lacking in color it would seem crude. Perhaps
it will help us to realize how unsightly most of the roofs of our houses
are, and how unfinished. There's no reason in the world why they should
be. The Greeks and the Romans had the right idea. They were very
sensitive to lack of finish. They felt the charm of decorated roofs. See
that angel down there that keeps recurring at the points of the gables.
What a pretty bit of ornamentation. The Greeks used it to suggest the
gifts of the gods coming down from heaven. 'Blessings on this house.' I
suppose the wreath in the hand used here was meant to suggest the
crowning of the work. It explains why the figure is called "Victory." By
the way, it has an architectural value in giving lightness and grace to
The builders, we could see, had cleverly adapted their plans to the
conditions. "The effect might so easily have been monotonous and cold,
and it might have been flat and dreary. It was a fine idea to lift the
central portion of each of those main palaces above the surfaces of the
roofs to introduce the semicircular windows in the domes. It helped to
infuse the scene with a kind of tenderness and spirituality. And see how
the two groups on top of the triumphal arches, the Orientals and the
Pioneers, contribute to the soaring effect and to the finish at the same
time. The Romans disliked bareness on the top of their arches. They
wanted life up there, the more animated the better. So they put on some
of their most dramatic scenes, like their chariot races."
The expert proceeded to point out the architectural balance of the
buildings. The severe and mighty Palace of Machinery, impressive in its
long sweep of line, at one side made a dramatic contrast with the
delicately imagined and poetic Palace of Fine Arts on the other. In
front of the walled city, between the long stretch of garden, stood two
harmonious buildings, the Palace of Horticulture, with its glorious roof
of glass, and the Festival Hall, closely related in outline, and yet
very different in detail. And the garden itself, with its dark, pointed
trees standing against the wall, and with its simplicity of design, made
an agreeable approach to the great arched entrance under the Tower of
Jewels. "Those banners down there, shielding the lights, are a stroke of
genius, both in their orange color and their shape. And those
orange-colored streamers, how they add to the spirit of gaiety. The
trees have been placed against the wall to keep it from seeming like a
long and uninteresting stretch. And observe the grace in line of the
niches between the trees. Even from here you can feel the warmth of the
color in the paths. The pink effect is made by burning the sand. Only a
man like Guerin, a painter, would have thought of that detail. I wonder
how many visitors down there know that the very sand they walk on has
Around the Tower pigeons were flying, somehow relieving the mechanical
outlines. Was the disproportion between the great arch, forming a kind
of pedestal, and the outlines above due to mathematical miscalculation
or to the interference of the ornamentation? We finally decided that the
proportions had probably been right in the first place. But they had
been changed by the Exposition authorities' cutting the Tower down one
hundred feet, thereby saving $100,000. A matter of this kind could be
reduced almost to an exact science. Besides, though the ornamentation
interfered with the upward sweep of line, the effect of flatness was
made by those horizontal blocks which seemed to be piled up to the top.
If the outline had been clean, it would have achieved the soaring effect
so essential to an inspiring tower, creating the sense of reaching up to
the sky, like an invocation.
Thomas Hastings had a sound idea when he made that design. He wanted to
do something Expositional, exactly as Guerin did when he applied the
coloring. Now there were critics who said that the coloring was too
pronounced. It reminded them of the theater. Well, that was just what it
ought to remind them of. It had life, gaiety, abandon. The critic who
said that the orange domes provided just the right tone, and that this
tone ought to have been followed throughout, didn't make sufficient
allowance for public taste. He wanted the Exposition to be an
impressionistic picture in one key. But one key was exactly what Guerin
didn't want. His purpose was to catch the excitement in variety of color
as well as the warmth, to stimulate the mind. He succeeded in adapting
his color scheme to architecture that had breadth and dignity. At first
he expected to use orange, blue, and gold, carefully avoiding white. He
did avoid white; but he expanded his color scheme and included brown and
yellow and green. But, in that tower, Hastings did something out of
harmony with the architecture, something barbaric and crude.
Here and there the bits of Austrian cut glass were sparkling on the
tower like huge diamonds. "At times the thing is wonderfully impressive.
There's always something impressive about a mass if it has any kind of
uniformity, and here you can detect an intention on the part of the
architect. There are certain lights that have a way of dressing up the
tower as a whole, giving it unity and hiding its ugliness. And at all
times it has a kind of barbaric splendor. It might have come out of an
Aztec mind, rather childish in expression, and seeking for beauty in an
elemental way. I can imagine Aztecs living up there in a barbaric
fashion, their houses piled, one above another, like our uncivilized
In studying the Tower of Jewels in detail, we decided that it was not
really so crude as it seemed on first sight. Much might be done even now
by a process of elimination. And the arch was magnificent. "In its
present condition the tower unquestionably provides a strong accent. It
has already become a dominating influence here. But it's an influence
that teaches people to feel and to think in the wrong way. It encourages
a liking for what I call messy art, instead of developing a taste for
the simplicity that always characterizes the best kind of beauty, the
kind that develops naturally out of a central idea."
From the Tower of Jewels we turned our attention to those other towers,
the four so charming in design and in proportion, Renaissance in
feeling, their simplicity seeming all the more graceful on account of
the contrast with the other tower's over-ornamentation. "I wonder what
the world would have done without the Giralda Tower in Seville? It has
inspired many of the most beautiful towers in the world. It helped to
inspire McKim, Mead and White when they built the Madison Square Tower,
and the Madison Square Tower might be described as a relative of our own
Ferry Tower, which is decidedly one of the best pieces of architecture
in San Francisco. And it's plain enough that these four towers and the
Ferry Tower are related. The top of the four towers, by the way, has a
history. It comes from the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, the little
temple in Athens that was built by one of the successful chorus-leaders
in the competitive choral dances of the Greeks, who happened to be a man
of wealth. Afterward, when a chorus-leader won a prize, which consisted
of a tripod, it was shown to the people on that monument."
"Some critics," I said, "have complained of the coloring and the pattern
on those towers."
"They can't justify themselves, however. Though this plaster looks like
Travertine, it nevertheless remains plaster, and it lends itself to
plastic decoration. The Greeks and the Romans often used plaster, and
they did not hesitate to paint it whenever they chose. Kelham's four
towers have been criticised on account of their plastic design, which
has a good deal of pink in it. But that design provides one of the
strongest color notes in the whole Exposition, a delightful note, too.
It happens that makers of wallpaper have had the good sense to use a
design somewhat similar. But this fact does not make the design any the
less attractive or serviceable."
Between the houses on the hill we could catch glimpses of the South
Gardens between the glass dome of the Horticultural Palace and Festival
Hall. The architects rightly felt that in general appearance they had to
be French to harmonize with the French architecture on either side. In
the distance the Fountain of Energy stood out, like a weird skeleton
that did not wholly explain itself. Stirling Calder, the sculptor, must
have forgotten that the outline of those little symbolic figures perched
on the shoulder of his horseman would not carry their meaning.
Now, before our eyes, the Exposition revealed itself as a picture, with
all the arts contributing. It suggested the earlier periods of art, when
the art-worker was architect, painter and sculptor all in one.
"You see," said the architect as we started down the hill, "when the
Exposition builders began their work they found the setting of the
Mediterranean here. It justified them in reproducing the art of the
Orient and of Greece and Rome which was associated with it, modified of
course to meet the special requirements. Besides, they didn't want to be
tied down to the severe type of architecture in vogue in this country."
First of all, he went on to explain, they had created a playground.
There they appealed to the color sense, strong in the Italians and the
Orientals, and weak among the people in this country, decidedly in need
of fostering, and the appeal was not merely to the intellect, but to the
emotions as well. Color was as much a part of architecture as of
painting. So, in applying the color, Guerin worked with the architects.
He never made a plan without taking them into consultation. Then, too,
Calder, acting head of the Department of Sculpture, and Denneville, the
inventor of the particular kind of imitation Travertine marble used on
the grounds, were active in all the planning. In fact, very little was
done without the co-operation of Guerin, Calder, Denneville and Kelham,
chief of the Architectural Board. In getting the Exposition from paper
to reality, they had succeeded in making it seem to be the expression of
one mind. Even in the development of the planting the architects had
their say. Here landscape gardening was actually a part of the
architecture. Faville's wall, for example, was built with the
understanding that its bareness was to be relieved with masses of
foliage, creating shadows.
Before the Scott Street entrance we paused to admire the high hedge of
John McLaren. We went close to examine the texture. The leaves of the
African dewplant were so thick that they were beginning to hide the
lines between the boxes.
"Faville realized the importance of separating the city from the rest of
the world, making it sequestered. He knew that a fence wouldn't be the
right sort of thing. So he conceived the idea of having a high, thick
wall, modeled after an old English wall, overgrown with moss and ivy. As
those walls were generations in growing, he saw that to produce one in a
few months or even a few years required some ingenuity. He set to work
on the problem and he devised a scheme for making an imitation hedge by
planting ivy in deep boxes and piling the boxes on one another. When he
submitted it to McLaren he was told that it was good except for the use
of the ivy. It would be better to use African dew plant. Later McLaren
improved on the scheme by using shallow boxes.
"Faville designed a magnificent entrance here," the architect went on,
glancing up at the three modest arches that McLaren had tried to make as
attractive as possible with his hedge. "It would have been very
appropriate. But the need of keeping down expenses caused the idea to be
sacrificed. However, the loss was not serious. As a matter of fact, in
spite of the efforts of the Exposition to persuade visitors to come in
here, a great many preferred to enter by the Fillmore Street gate.
During the day this approach is decidedly the more attractive on account
of leading directly into the gardens and into the approach to the court.
The Fillmore Street entrance, with the Zone shrieking at you at one
side, hardly puts you in the mood for the beauty in the courts. At night
the situation is somewhat different. The flaring lights of the Zone make
the dimness of the court all the more attractive."
In the South Gardens
Though the arrangement of the landscape might be French, these flowers
were unmistakably Californian. The two pools, ornamented with the Arthur
Putnam fountain of the mermaid, in duplicate, decidedly French in
feeling, were brilliant with the reflected coloring from both the
flowers and the buildings.
The intention at first had been to make a sunken garden here; but the
underground construction had interfered. Now one might catch a
suggestion of Versailles, except for those lamp posts. "Joseph Pennell,
the American etcher, who has traveled all over Europe making drawings,
finds a suggestion of two great Spanish gardens here, one connected with
the royal palace of La Granga, near Madrid, and the other with the royal
palace of Aranjuez, near Toledo. They've allowed the flowers to be the
most conspicuous feature, the dominating note, which is as it should be.
Masses of flowers are always beautiful and they are never more beautiful
than when they are of one color."
"And masses of shrubbery are always beautiful, too,", I said, nodding in
the direction of the Palace of Horticulture, where McLaren had done some
of his best work.
"There's no color in the world like green, particularly dark green, for
richness and poetry and mystery. It's intimately related to shadow,
which does so much for beauty in the world."
"The Fountain of Energy almost hits you in the face, doesn't it?" I
"Of course. That's exactly what Calder meant to do. In a way he was
right. He wanted to express in sculpture the idea of tremendous force.
Now his work is an ideal example of what is expositional. It has a
sensational appeal. One objection to it is that it suggests too much
energy, too much effort on the part, not only of the subject, but of the
sculptor. The artist ought never to seem to try. His work ought to make
you feel that it was easy for him to do. But here you feel that the
sculptor clenched his teeth and worked with might and main. As a matter
of fact, he did this piece when he must have been tired out from
managing all the sculpture on the grounds. He made two designs. The
first one, which was not used, seemed to me better because it was
simpler in the treatment of the base. Even the figures at the base here
are over-energized, the human figures I mean. Still, in their
sportiveness and in the sportiveness of Roth's animals, they have a
certain charm. And with the streams spouting, the work as a whole makes
an impression of liveliness. But it's a nervous liveliness,
characteristically American, not altogether healthy."
The Fountain of Energy and the Tower of Jewels, we decided, both
expressed the same kind of imagination. Like the fountain, the tower
gave the sense of overstrain. "It's pretty hard to see any architectural
relation between those figures up there on the tower and the tower
itself. See how the mass tries to dominate Kelham's four Italian towers,
but without showing any real superiority."
The heraldic shields on the lamp posts near by attracted us both by
their color and by the variety and grace of their designs. How many
visitors stopped to consider their historic character? They went back to
the early history of the Pacific Coast. For this contribution alone
Walter D'Arcy Ryan deserved the highest recognition. Only an artist
could have worked out this scheme in just this sensitive and appropriate
We stopped at the vigorous equestrian statue of Cortez by Charles
Niehaus at our right, close to the tower. "I always liked Cortez for his
nerve. He didn't get much gratitude from his Emperor for conquering
Mexico and annexing it to Spain. And what he got in glory and in money
probably did not compensate him for his disappointment at the end. When
he couldn't reach Charles V in any other way, he jumped up on the royal
carriage. Charles didn't recognize him and asked who he was. 'I'm the
man,' said Cortez, 'that gave you more provinces than your forebears
left you cities.' Naturally Charles was annoyed. We don't like to be
reminded of ingratitude, do we, especially by the people who think we
ought to be grateful to them? So Cortez quit the court and spent the
rest of his life in the country."
At our right we met another of the many Spanish adventurers drawn to the
Americas by the discovery of Columbus, Pizarro, who presented his
country with the rich land of Peru. It was doubtless placed here on
account of the relation between Spain and California. "Civilization is a
development through blood and spoilation," the architect remarked. "If
Pizarro hadn't been lured by the gold of the Incas we might not be here
at this moment."
The figures on the tower, insignificant when viewed from a distance, at
close range took on vigor: the philosopher in his robes, the bearer of
European culture of the sixteenth century to these shores; the Spanish
priest, typical of the early friars; the adventurer, so closely related
to Columbus; and the Spanish soldier. The armored horseman, by Tonetti,
in a row all by himself, suffering from being rather absurdly out of
place, might have won applause if he had been brought on a pedestal
close to the ground. His being repeated so often up there made an effect
almost comic. The vases and the triremes, the pieces of armor, with the
battle-axe designs on either side, the Cleopatra's needles, and the
richly-girdled globe on top, sustained on the shoulders of three
figures, were all well done. The only trouble was that they had not been
made to blend into one lightly soaring mass.
"It's curious that Hastings should have gone astray in the treatment of
the tower. He must have known the psychological effect of parallel
horizontal lines. When skyscrapers were first built in New York a few
years ago they were considered unsightly on account of their great
height. So the architects were careful to use parallel horizontal lines
in order to diminish the apparent height as far as possible. Then people
began to say that there was beauty in the sky-scrapers, and the
architects changed their policy. They built in straight parallel lines
that shot up to the sky. In this way they increased the apparent
The inscriptions on the south side of the tower's base reminded us of
the Exposition's meaning, Conspicuously and properly emphasized here.
The pagan note in the architecture was indicated in the ornamentation by
the use in the design of the head of the sacred bull. And Triumphant
America was celebrated in the group of eagles.
The dark stains on the yellow columns made us see how clever Guerin had
been in his application of the coloring. In most places he had applied
one coat only, trusting to nature to do the rest. Most of all, he wished
to avoid the appearance of newness and to secure a look of age. On these
columns the smoke from the steam rollers had helped out. One might
imagine that they had been here for generations.
Here the builders had used the Corinthian column, with the acanthus
leaves varied with fruit-designs and with the human figure. "It was a
lucky day for architecture when the column came into use. It doubtless
got its start from a single beam used for support. Then the notion
developed of making it ornamental by fluting it and decorating the top.
In this Exposition three kinds of columns are used, the Doric, which the
Greeks favored, with the very simple top or capital; the Ionic, with the
spiral scroll for the capital, and the Corinthian, with the acanthus
flowing over the top, and the Composite which uses features from all the
"Do you happen to know how the acanthus design was made? Well, Vitruvius
tells the story. Anyone that wants to get a line on this Exposition
ought to read that book, or, at any rate, to glance through it and to
read parts of it pretty thoroughly. It is called 'The Architecture of
Marcus Vitruvius Pollio.' There's a good translation from the Latin by
Joseph Gwilt. It has become the architect's bible. According to
Vitruvius, the nurse of Corinthian girl who had died carried to the
girl's tomb basket filled with the things that the girl had particularly
liked. She left the basket on the ground near the tomb and covered it
with a tile. It happened that it stood over the root of an acanthus
plant. As the plant grew its foliage pressed up around the basket and
when it reached the tile the leaves were forced to bang back in graceful
curves. Callimachus, a Corinthian architect, noticed the effect and put
it into use."
Under the Tower of Jewels
When we entered the arch we looked up at the magnificent ceiling used by
McKim, Mead & White, in panels, with a pictorial design beautifully
colored by Guerin. "The blue up there blends into the deeper blue of the
Dodge murals just beneath. Those murals are in exactly the right tone.
They give strength to the arch. But they are weakened by being in the
midst of so much heavy architecture. Their subjects, however, are in
harmony with the meaning of the tower. Guerin was right when he told the
mural decorators that a good subject was an asset. By studying these
murals you can get a glimpse of all the history associated with
California and with the Panama Canal. Dodge has made drama out of
Balboa's discovery of Panama and out of the union of the two oceans, a
theme worthy of a great poet. And Dodge is one of the few men
represented in the art on the grounds who have made pictorial use of
machinery. There's the discovery by Balboa, the purchase by the United
States, the presentation of the problem of uniting the two oceans, very
imaginative and pictorial, the completion of the Canal, and the crowning
of labor, with the symbolic representation of the resulting feats of
commerce suggested by the want of the winged Mercury. Dodge is dramatic
without being too individual. His murals don't call the attention away
from their surroundings to themselves. They are a part of the
architecture, as murals always should be."
On either side we found the columned niches designed by McKim, Mead and
White, each ornamented with a fountain. The back wall made a splendid
effect as it reached up toward the tower.
To the right we turned to view Mrs. Edith Woodman Burroughs' "Fountain
of Youth," lovely in the girlish beauty of the central figure, and in
the simplicity and the sincerity of the design as a whole. In some ways
the figure reminded us of the celebrated painting by Ingres in the
Louvre, "The Source," the nude girl bearing a jug on her shoulder,
sending out a stream of water. There was no suggestion of imitation,
"The symbolism in the design," said the architect, "does not thrust
itself on you, and yet it is plain enough. That woman and man pushing up
flowers at the feet of the girl make a beautiful conception. The whole
fountain has an ingenuousness that is in key with the subject. Across
the way," he went on, turning to view the Fountain of El Dorado, by Mrs.
Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, "there's a piece of work much more
sophisticated and dramatic, fine in its conception and strong in
handling. No one would say offhand that it was the work of a woman; and
yet it shows none of the overstrain that sometimes characterizes a woman
artist when she wishes her work to seem masculine."
In approaching the "El Dorado" we noted the skill shown in the details
of the conception. "This fountain might have been called 'The Land of
Gold,' in plain English, or 'The Struggle for Happiness,' or by any
other name that suggested competition for what people valued as the
prizes of life. When Mrs. Whitney was asked to explain whether those
trees in the background represented the tree of life, she said she
didn't have any such idea in her mind. What she probably wanted to do
was to present an imaginative scene that each observer could interpret
for himself. These two Egyptian-looking guardians at the doors, with
the figures kneeling by them, suggest plainly enough the futility that
goes with so much of our struggling in the world. So often people
reach the edge of their goal without really getting what they want."
The Court of the Universe
Through the arch we passed into the neck of the Court of the Universe,
which charmed us by the warmth of its coloring, by McLaren's treatment
of the sunken garden, by its shape, by the use of the dark pointed
cypress trees against the walls, and by the sweep of view across the
great court to the Marina, broken, however, by the picturesque and
inharmonious Arabic bandstand. We glanced at the inscriptions at the
base of the tower carrying on the history of the Canal to its
completion. Then we stopped before those graceful little elephants
bearing Guerin's tall poles with their streamers. "That little fellow is
a gem in his way. He comes from Rome. But the heavy pole on his back is
almost too much for him. He's used pretty often on the grounds, but not
too often. After the Exposition is over we ought to keep these figures
for the Civic Center. They would be very ornamental in the heart of the
As we walked toward the main court, the architect called my attention to
the view between the columns on the other side of the Tower of Jewels,
with the houses of the city running down the hills. "San Francisco
architecture may not be beautiful when you study individual houses. But
in mass it is fine. And, of a late afternoon, it is particularly good in
coloring. It seems to be enveloped in a rich purple haze. That color
might have given the mural decorators a hint. It would have been
effective in the midst of all this high-keyed architecture. It's easy
here to imagine that you're in one of those ancient Hindu towns where
the gates are closed at night. You almost expect to see camels and
What was most striking in the Court was its immensity. "Though it comes
from Bernini's entrance court to St. Peter's in Rome, it is much bigger.
There are those who think it's too big. But it justifies itself by its
splendor. The use of the double row of columns is particularly happy.
The double columns were greatly favored by the Romans. In St. Peter's
Bernini used four in a row. And what could be finer than those two
triumphal arches on either side, the Arch of the Rising Sun and the Arch
of the Setting Sun, with their double use of symbolism, in suggesting
the close relation between California and the Orient, as well as their
geographical meaning? They are, of course, importations from Rome, the
Arch of Constantine and the Arch of Titus all over again, with a rather
daring use of windows with colored lattices to give them lightness and
with colossal groups of almost startling proportions used in place of
the Roman chariot or quadriga."
Originally, the intention had been to use here the name of the Court of
Sun and Stars. Then it was changed to the Court of Honor, and finally to
its present name, to suggest the international character of the
Those two groups represented by far the most ambitious work done by the
sculpture department. From designs by Calder, they were made by three
sculptors, Calder, Roth and Lentelli. They presented problems that must
have been both difficult and interesting to work out. First, they had to
balance each other. What figure in the Pioneer group could balance the
elephant that typified the Orient? Calder had the idea of using the
prairie schooner, associated with the coming of the pioneers to
California, drawn by great oxen.
The Oriental group doubtless shaped itself in picturesque outlines much
more quickly than the sturdy, but more homely Americans of the earlier
period. The Orientals displayed an Indian prince on the ornamented seat,
and the Spirit of the East in the howdah, of his elephant, an Arab shiek
on his Arabian horse, a negro slave bearing fruit on his head, an
Egyptian on a camel carrying a Mohammedan standard, an Arab falconer
with a bird, a Buddhist priest, or Lama, from Thibet, bearing his symbol
of authority, a Mohammedan with his crescent, a second negro slave and a
Mongolian on horseback.
The Nations of the West were grouped around that prairie wagon, drawn by
two oxen. In the center stood the Mother of Tomorrow a typical American
girl, roughly dressed, but with character as well as beauty in her face
and figure. On top of the wagon knelt the symbolic figure of
"Enterprise," with a white boy on one side and a colored boy on the
other, "Heroes of Tomorrow." On the other side of the wagon stood
typical figures, the French-Canadian trapper, the Alaska woman, bearing
totem poles on her back, the American of Latin descent on his horse,
bearing a standard, a German, an Italian, an American of English
descent, a squaw with a papoose, and an Indian chief on his pony. The
wagon was modelled on top of the arch. It was too large and bulky to be
easily raised to that great height.
The architect was impressed by the boldness of the designs and to the
spirit that had been put into them. "It's very seldom in the history of
art that sculptors have had a chance to do decorative work on so big a
scale. It must have been a hard job, getting the figures up there in
pieces and putting them together. Some of the workers came near being
blown off. Some of them lost their nerve and quit. I wonder, by the way,
if that angel on top of the prairie wagon would be there if Saint
Gaudens hadn't put an angel in his Sherman statue, and if he hadn't made
an angel float over the negro soldiers in his Robert Gould Shaw monument
in Boston. He liked that kind of symbolism. He must have got it from the
mediaeval sculptors who worked under the inspiration of the Catholic
Varying notes we found around the American group. Cleopatra's needle,
used for ornamentation, suggested Egypt and the Nile. That crenellated
parapet once belonged to military architecture: between those pieces
that stood up, the merlons, in the embrasure, the Greek and Roman
archers shot their arrows at the enemy and darted back behind the
merlons for protection. In spite of its being purely ornamental it told
its story just the same, and it expressed the spirit that still
persisted in mankind. Nowadays it was even used on churches. But
religion and war had always been associated. Besides, in an
International Exposition it was to be expected that the art should be
international. How many people, when they looked at Cleopatra's needle,
knew how closely it was related to the newspapers and historical records
of today? The Egyptians used to write on these monuments news and
opinions of public affairs. The Romans had a similar custom in
connection with their columns. On the column of Trajan they not only
wrote of their victories, but they pictured victorious scenes in stone.
The little sprite that ran along the upper edge of the court in a row,
the star-figure, impressed me as making an unfortunate contrast with the
stern angel, repeated in front of each of the two arches. My criticism
brought out the reply that it was beautiful in itself and had its place
up there. "These accidental effects of association are sometimes good
and sometimes they're not. Here I can't see that they make a jarring
effect. In the first place, a Court of the Universe ought to express
something of the incongruity in our life. Ideally, of course, it isn't
good in art to represent a figure in a position that it's hard to
maintain without discomfort. But here the outlines are purely decorative
and don't suggest strain. In my judgment that figure is one of the
greatest ornaments in the court. It gives just the right note."
The two fountains in the center of the sunken garden were gaily throwing
their spray into the air. The boldness of the Tritons at the base
represented a very different kind of handling from the delicacy of the
figure at the top of each, the Evening Sun and the Rising Sun, both
executed with poetic feeling. In the Rising Sun, Weinmann had succeeded
in putting into the figure of the youth life, motion and joy. Looking at
that figure, just ready to spread its wings, one felt as if it were
really about to sweep into the air. Though the Evening Sun might be less
dramatic, it was just as fine. "It isn't often that you see sculpture of
such imaginative quality," said the architect.
Those great symbolic figures by Robert Aitken, at once giving a reminder
of Michael Angelo, impressed me as being perfectly adapted to the Court,
and to their subjects, Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. But my companion
thought they were too big. He agreed, however, that they were both
original and strong. There was cleverness in making the salamander, with
his fiery breath and his sting, ready to attack a Greek warrior,
symbolize fire. Under the winged girl representing air there was a
humorous reference to man's early efforts to fly in the use of the
quaint little figure of Icarus. Water and earth were more conventional,
but worked out with splendid vigor, the two figures under earth
suggesting the competitive struggle of men. "I remember Aitken in his
beginning here in San Francisco. Though he often did poor stuff,
everything of his showed artistic courage and initiative. Even then
anyone could see there was something in him. Now it's coming out in the
work he has contributed to this Exposition. The qualities in these four
statues we shall see again when we reach the fountain that Aitken made
for the Court of Abundance. They are individual without being eccentric.
Compare these four figures with the groups in front of the two arches,
by Paul Manship, another American sculptor of ability, but different
from Aitken in his devotion to the early Greek. When Manship began his
work a few years ago he was influenced by Rodin. Then he went to Rome
and became charmed with the antique. Now he follows the antique method
altogether. He deliberately conventionalizes. And yet his work is not at
all conventional. He manages to put distinct life into it. These two
groups, the 'Dancing Girls' and 'Music,' would have delighted the
sculptors of the classic period."
Under the Arch of the Rising Sun two delicate murals by Edward Simmons
charmed us by their grace, their lovely coloring, by the richness of
their fancy and by the extraordinary fineness of their workmanship.
"There's a big difference of opinion about those canvases as murals. But
there's no difference of opinion in regard to their artistic merit. They
are unquestionably masterpieces. Kelham and Guerin, who had a good deal
to do with putting them up there, believe they are in exactly the right
place. But a good many others think they are almost lost in all this
heavy architecture. You see, Simmons didn't take Guerin's advice as to a
subject. Each of his two murals has a meaning, or rather a good many
meanings, but no central theme, no story that binds the figures into a
distinct unity. So, from the point of view of the public, they are
somewhat puzzling. People look up there and wonder what those figures
are doing. But to the artist they find their justification merely in
being what they are, beautiful in outline and in posture and coloring.
You don't often get such atmosphere in mural work, or such subtlety and
richness of feeling."
Both murals unmistakably showed the same hand. "There's not another man
in the country who could do work of just that kind. That group in the
center of the mural to the north could be cut out and made into a
picture just as it stands. It doesn't help much to know that the middle
figure, with the upraised arm, is Inspiration with Commerce at her right
and Truth at her left. They might express almost any symbols that were
related to beauty. And the symbolism of the groups at either end seems
rather gratuitous. They might be many other things besides true hope and
false hope and abundance standing beside the family. But the girl
chasing the bubble blown out by false hope makes a quaint conceit to
express adventure, though perhaps only one out of a million would see
the point if it weren't explained."
The opposite mural we found a little more definite in its symbolism, if
not so pictorial or charming. The figures consisted of the imaginary
type of the figure from the lost Atlantis; the Roman fighter; the
Spanish adventurer, suggesting Columbus; the English type of sea-faring
explorer, Sir Walter Raleigh; the priest who followed in the wake of the
discoverer, the bearer of the cross to the new land; the artist,
spreading civilization, and the laborer, modern in type, universal in
significance, interesting here as standing for the industrial enterprise
"Those murals suggest what a big chance our decorators have in the
themes that come out of our industrial life. They've only made a start.
As mural decoration advances in this country, we ought to produce men
able to deal in a vigorous and imaginative way with the big spiritual
and economic conceptions that are associated with our new ideals of
One feature of this court made a special appeal to the architect, the
use of the large green vases under the arches. "They're so good they're
likely to be overlooked. They blend perfectly in the general scheme.
Their coloring could not have been better chosen and their design is
On the Marina
Along one of the corridors we passed, enjoying the richness of the
coloring and the beauty of the great lamps in a long row, then out into
the wide entrance of the court to the Column of Progress.
"I wonder if that column would be there now," said the architect, "if
Trajan had not built his column in Rome nearly two thousand years ago.
The Christianizing of the column, by placing St. Peter on top instead of
Trajan, is symbolic of a good deal that has gone on here. But we owe a
big debt to the pagans, much more than we acknowledge."
When I expressed enthusiasm over the column the architect ran his eye
past the frieze to the top. "In the first place, that dominating group
up there ought at once to express the character of the column. But it
doesn't. You have to look twice and you have to look hard. One figure
would have been more effective. But there is a prejudice among some
sculptors against placing a single figure at the head of a column,
though the Romans often did it. But if a group had to be used it could
have been made much clearer. Now in that design MacNeil celebrated the
Adventurous Archer in a way that was distinctly old-fashioned. He made
the archer a superman, pushing his way forward by force, and by the
dominance of personality. And see how comparatively insignificant he
made the supporting figures. The relation of those three people implies
an acceptation of the old ideals of the social organization. MacNeil had
a chance here to express the new spirit of today, the spirit that honors
the common man and that makes an ideal of social co-operation on terms
At the base we studied the figures celebrating labor. "Konti is a man of
broad social understanding and sympathy," said my companion. "But
picturesque as those figures are, they're not much more. They give no
intimation of the mighty stirring among the laborers of the world, a
theme that might well inspire the sculpture of today, one of the
greatest of all human themes."
From the Column of Progress the Marina drew us over to the seawall. "The
builders were wise to leave this space open and to keep it simple. It's
as if they said: 'Ladies and gentlemen, we have done our best. But
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