Rodin at the Legion of Honor

Wednesday February 22, 2017

To mark the centenary anniversary of Auguste Rodin’s death in 1917, the Legion of Honor has pulled out its world-famous Rodin sculptures for a truly once in a lifetime exhibit.


The sculptures on display were all once owned by Alma and Adolph Spreckels, the founders of the Legion of Honor in 1915.

At the turn of the century, Alma and Adolph Spreckels were sugar magnates — owners of Spreckels Sugar Company — and avid art collectors. They purchased works directly from Rodin’s studio, including incomplete marble works and plaster models. At the time, they had amassed one of the largest collections of Rodin sculptures in the United States.

(More fun facts: Mr. Spreckels donated the land that eventually became the western edge of Golden Gate Park, hence Spreckels lake, and their 1913 mansion is now famously Danielle Steele’s home in Pacific Heights. He also once maybe definitely killed the co-founder of the SF Chronicle and pled temporary insanity. San Francisco, you have got yourself quite a history.)

The collection itself is something to behold, especially in the grand setting of the Legion of Honor. Muscles cast in bronze ripple and strain. Noses are imperfectly bumpy. Aging flesh droops. While Rodin was criticized in his day for his adherence to realism and biology, his sculptures now evoke pure raw emotion, wonder, and a delicate physicality that belies their rigid materials.



Do you need more reasons to go?

As of this weekend, the Legion of Honor will also be hosting an exhibit of the early works of Claude Monet. So, yes, you will be able to see not only the Rodin sculptures straight out of the Legion of Honor vault but over 60 paintings of Claude Monet’s early works.


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