DescriptionMaynard Dixon (American, 1875-1946)
First sketches for the murals in the Room of the Dons in the Mark Hopkins, San Francisco (7 works affixed to 4 boards), 1926
Gouache, pencil, ink, and gold paint on paper affixed to board, each
1-1/4 x 7 inches (largest)
Each board initialed and dated lower left: MD 1926
Board #A, #B, #F signed and inscribed on the reverse: Series 1 #A, #B, #E, #F first sketches for the Room of Dons
Board #E signed and inscribed on the reverse: Maynard Dixon / 7128 Montgomery St.
Bonhams & Butterfields, San Francisco, California, June 9, 2002;
Private collection, Northern California, acquired from the above.
Maynard Dixon began working on his sketches for the frieze in The Room of Dons in 1926, shortly after the Mark Hopkins opened its doors as a hotel. Dixon's original sketches, drawn on the back of a restaurant menu, were the first of three submissions made for the final execution of what would be considered a tremendous collaboration work between Frank Van Sloun and Maynard Dixon. Critic Junius Craven writes in a review of the murals:
"In a lunette at one end of the room stands a robed allegorical figure flanked by a historic pageant which continues around the four walls to a large window opposite, at either side of which the progression ends with groups of figures symbolizing lands that lie beyond the Golden Gate. Richly suggestive, rather than narrative, the pageant includes characters representative of both the real and the traditional history of California from remote times to 1849. The paintings are rich in color and design throughout, against a background of flat gold" (The Argonaut, January 27, 1927).
Dixon was heavily influenced by the Borderlands culture, which was a blend of Anglo-American and Hispanic traditions. Just as Hispanic culture moved north into California, Anglo-American culture moved west. Sketch #B depicts Father Junipero Serra arriving from Mexico in 1769 to implant Spanish colonial culture in California. Other sketches in this series represent American Frontiersman from the eastern seaboard encountering the plains Indians, California-bound pioneers trekking west across the Overland Trail, and Calafia flanked by her warrior maidens. These magnificent sketches, executed at the height of Dixon's career, illustrate the process and refinement of what would become one of the most inconic murals in San Francisco.
Board #A measures 8-3/4 x 15-1/4 inches; Sheets measure: 1-1/2 x 5-1/2 inches (each), Board #B measures: 5-1/4 x 15; Sheets measure 1-1/2 x 4-1/2 inches (each), Board #E measures: 4-3/4 x 9-1/4 inches; Sheet measures #E: 1-1/4 x 7 inches. Board #F (indistinct) measures: 4 x 10 inches; Sheets measures: 1-1/2 x 3-1/2 inches (each) Board #F has hinge tape that has made the inscription on the reverse indistinct. Overall no major condition issues to note on each work.
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