Jules Guérin, Panoramic View of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (detail), 1913. Watercolor and opaque watercolor over graphite on paper. Collection of the Exploratorium, San Francisco

Jewel City: Art from San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition

The year 2015 marks the centennial of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE), the San Francisco world’s fair that celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal and the city’s reconstruction following the great earthquake of 1906. The grand exposition covered 76 city blocks and boasted national and international pavilions showcasing innovation, industry, and the arts. At the heart of the PPIE was one of the most ambitious art exhibitions ever presented in the United States, encompassing more than 11,000 paintings, sculptures, prints, and photographs, in addition to a significant array of public murals and monuments. To mark this anniversary, Jewel City revisits this vital moment in the inauguration of San Francisco as the West Coast’s cultural epicenter. The landmark exhibition at the de Young reassembles more than 200 works by major American and European artists, most of which were on display at this defining event.

Jewel City shares examples that signal the key artistic trends of 1915, from the conservative to the avant-garde: American and French Impressionism; works by members of the Ashcan School; paintings from the emerging modernist styles in Italy, Hungary, Austria, Finland, and Norway; and more. Highlights include an impressive survey of American art, with works by Mary Cassatt, Thomas Eakins, John Singer Sargent, James McNeill Whistler, Winslow Homer, Frederic Remington, John Sloan, Robert Henri, and other masters. In addition, the presentation boasts an extensive offering of European painting and sculpture, with examples on view by such greats as Gustave Courbet, James Tissot, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Auguste Rodin, Théo van Rysselberghe, and Edvard Munch. Monumental murals designed for the fair, including those by Arthur F. Mathews and William de Leftwich Dodge, will be seen for the first time in nearly a century.

The exhibition is accompanied by a scholarly catalogue, with contributions from James A. Ganz, curator of the exhibition, and fellow Fine Arts Museums curators Emma Acker, Karin Breuer, Melissa Buron, Martin Chapman, Renée Dreyfus, and Colleen Terry, as well as scholars Laura Ackley (independent historian, San Francisco), Heidi Applegate (independent art historian, Washington, DC), Gergely Barki (curator and advisor in 20th-century painting at Szépművészeti Múzeum–Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest), Victoria Kastner (historian, Hearst Castle), Anthony Lee (Idella Plimpton Kendall Professor of Art History, Mount Holyoke College), and Scott A. Shields (associate director and chief curator, Crocker Art Museum).

In July of 2015, William de Leftwich Dodge’s mural Atlantic and Pacific was installed in Wilsey Court in preparation for the exhibition.

Learn more about the city of San Francisco’s full PPIE 100 program.

Joseph Raphael, Spring Winds, 1912–1915. Oil on canvas. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, museum purchase, Skae Fund Legacy, 41765

Currently on view