Legion Of Honor Debuts Unprecedented Pre-Raphaelites Exhibit With Upscale Affair

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Max Hollein at the reception for "Truth and Beauty: The Pre-Raphaelites and the Old Masters"
Max Hollein at the reception for “Truth and Beauty: The Pre-Raphaelites and the Old Masters.”

Photo Credit: Gary Sexton

Come August, Max Hollein, the director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, is leaving his position. Hollein is heading to bigger and better prospects, specifically to lead the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. One of the last significant openings under his directorship, Truth and Beauty: The Pre-Raphaelites and the Old Masters, recently debuted with a lavish event. Naturally, many people in the local art community are sad to see Hollein go—he’s only been at the Legion of Honor and de Young for two years—so they came out to hear Hollein speak about the new exhibit.

Guests posing at the reception
Guests posing at the reception

Photo Credit: Gary Sexton

“To assemble this ambitious exhibition, we have drawn from the depths of several curatorial departments at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, including European decorative arts and sculpture, European paintings, costume and textile arts, and the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts,” Hollein said. “It is an honor and a pleasure to broaden the conversation by including a vast array of iconic Pre-Raphaelite and old master works of art from other collections throughout the world.” The exhibition features more than 30 works including six paintings by Sandro Botticelli—“an unprecedented number—none of which has been displayed before in the Bay Area,” Hollein explains. “Raphael’s Self Portrait from the Uffizi gallery in Florence is on loan from that museum for the first time.”

A tour of the exhibit
A tour of the exhibit

Photo Credit: Gary Sexton

Other works on view are Van Eyck’s The Annunciation, John Everett MillaisMariana, and William Holman Hunt’s The Lady of Shalott. Besides Self-Portrait, many of the paintings are on loan from major international museum collections in Australia, Austria, Germany, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere in the United States. Long-time museum supporters including Dede Wilsey, Karen Kubin, and Greg Malin were on hand to hear Hollein speak.

Melissa Buron, Greg Malin and Navid Armstrong
Melissa Buron, Greg Malin and Navid Armstrong

Photo Credit: Gary Sexton

“This presentation would not have been possible without the generous support of our donors, and I would like to express our deep gratitude to them all,” Hollein said acknowledging the patrons. “We are also extremely grateful to our many lenders, who have graciously offered extraordinary masterpieces from their collections into our conversation. We hope that the visual affinities and the evocative juxtapositions between works by the Pre-Raphaelites and the old masters in our galleries will inspire our audiences to explore the connections we all share between the past and the present—and to delight in these exquisite works by some of history’s most important artists.”

The exhibit
The exhibit

Photo Credit: Gary Sexton

After the talk, guests had private access to the stunning show. The Aperol Spritzes flowed, and everyone enjoyed a sumptuous buffet of dishes inspired by the past. There was deconstructed shepherd’s pie, caramelized leek tart, and Viennese sausages with onions.

Jack Calhoun, Dede Wilsey and Max Hollein
Jack Calhoun, Dede Wilsey and Max Hollein

Photo Credit: Gary Sexton

The Legion of Honor
The Legion of Honor

Photo Credit: Gary Sexton

Dorothy Saxe and David Saxe
Dorothy Saxe and David Saxe

Photo Credit: Gary Sexton

The exhibit
The exhibit

Photo Credit: Gary Sexton

Nina Hollein, Helena Nordstrom and Linda Butler
Nina Hollein, Helena Nordstrom and Linda Butler

Photo Credit: Gary Sexton

The Legion of Honor
The Legion of Honor

Photo Credit: Gary Sexton

Max Hollein
Max Hollein

Photo Credit: Gary Sexton

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