I finally managed to get to the Legion of Honor to see the show of drawings from the Joseph and Deborah Goldyne collection. The Goldynes, based in San Francisco, have been collecting for nearly 40 years. In 1995, one drawing from their collection was sold to the Getty Museum for a reported $2 million. The new exhibit, called “Judging by Appearance,” includes work from five centuries and occupies three rooms. Photography is not allowed, and only one image is offered on the Legion’s website—which is ridiculous.
The number of excellent works makes this a must-see exhibit. Here are some drawings that I found especially captivating:
• George Romney (England, 1734-1802), “The Fiend Conjured by Bolingbroke.”
• Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (France, 1796-1875), “A Peasant Woman Seen from Behind.”
• Jean Clouet (France, c. 1485?-1540/41), “Portrait of a Young Girl.”
• Edgar Degas (France, 1834-1917), “Laura Bellelli.”
• Gaetano Gandolfi (Italy, 1734-1802), “Five Imaginary Heads.”
• Adolf von Menzel (Germany, 1815-1905), “Study of an Extended Right Arm.”
• Stefano della Bella (Italy, 1610-1664), “Study of Eight Trees.”
• Pancrace Bessa (France, 1772-1835), “Eleven Insects.”
• Annibale Carracci (Italy, 1560-1609), “Nude Male Seated on a Bank, Seen from Behind.”
• Camille Pissarro (St. Thomas/France, 1830-1903 ), “The Road to Ennery, near Pointoise.”
• J.M.W. Turner (England, 1775-1851), “View Along the Moselle (?)”
• James McNeill Whistler (U.S./England, 1834-1903), “Study after Nocturne in Black and Gold, the Falling Rocket.”
• Theresa Choy (U.S.?, born 1965), “SAM5.”
To fully enjoy the show, you may need to ignore the way the drawings are framed. Possibly a lot of them have been left in the frames that they occupied at the time the works were purchased by the Goldynes. In most cases the framers made an attempt to tart up the drawings. Most of the frames are too eccentric, too large, too shiny, or whatever. A couple are too skimpy—like the thin frame holding the fabulous Turner. The matting tends toward the fussy, with artistic attempts to match or complement the colors of the work. Maybe the Legion could organize a docent tour about misjudgments in framing. People might as well learn from it!
If you see the show, allow some time to wander the Legion’s permanent collection. Be warned, you will encounter a remarkable amount of Kitsch, some of which can be enjoyed for its over-the-topness. But you will also find some really good works, like the Frans Hals portrait, the Ter Borch portrait, the Degas painting of orchestra musicians, and Cézanne’s “Forest Interior.” Also take note of the formidable lady in black painted by Franz Pourbus the Younger. And don’t miss the Mudéjar ceiling!