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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 bonds.
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 twenty-five years.
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 1915.
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 their number.
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 organizations.
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 $6,500,000.
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 merit alone.
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 conditions.
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 rain.
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 thousand dollars.
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 labor troubles.
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 intimacy.
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 the fog.
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 Fine Arts.
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 Stars.
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 students.
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 expression.
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 French.
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 there.
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 history?
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 merit.
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 nations.
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 American people.
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 work.
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.