Pressed for time but determined, I made my way across to the North West section of the city using only the GPS to guide me, as I had no idea beyond time where the pabulum for my soul was located.
Winding up the road, I could see as I drove closer nature was one of the guardians to this extraordinary place.
After some anxious searching (time being finite) I found a space to park, scrambled out of the car and gazed over the water to see the first enchanting treat. A view of the Golden Gate Bridge framed perfectly by evergreen and azure.
Walking up the path I found the next two guardians. Noble and frozen as though in mid-thought, two stone lions weathered and beautiful.
Immediately adjacent and flanking either side of the path to the entrance are two magnificent bronze statues on horseback with the sun shining down, approvingly further anointing them in enduring glory. I could imagine them asking a riddle or perhaps simply keeping watch so no philistines could pass.
I walked respectfully through the gate as I entered this most sacred Palace. Soon my soul would feast on the treasure within.
Surely my body would understand that nourishment of the soul is just as important and vital to life. My body could wait for dinner, today lunch was a different type of aliment.
The air was still and hot, there were far more bodies milling about than I would have expected. I had but an hour to get my fill and I intended on taking in every delight of this banquet.
My heals clipped against the stone steps as I made my way down to the first room. There I was greeted by the first of the paintings, vases, wallpapers and andirons. My eyes ate greedily as I moved hastily through the room.
My head began to swim with fervor. I had Chronos‘ warm humid breath on my neck. I fanned myself with the program, at first fast then more slowly. I would not be spurred on too quickly.
Into the next room I slowly made my way around to each delicious morsel, my soul listening, engrossed in each of their stories.
Nearly moved to tears with each brushstroke and saturation of colour, the light of a days long since past, captured by each master. The perfect balance of form and function in the furniture, tea sets and plates.
As I moved through the gallery my soul stirred. Cobwebs of emaciation were shook off and my soul swelled so strongly with nourishment that quiet tears could not be held back. Moved by the detailed feathers of the wings of Love, as real as one could ever believe, could I hear the breeze rustling through the wings as he looked upon the sweet maiden’s face. So delicate was each petal painted, that one could have picked the flowers and placed them in a vase. What magic did John Roddam Spencer Stanhope know?
Moving through, my eyes found what they were eager to devour. Albert Moore’s Midsummer. While it is true of all works of art, I believe it may be most true for this piece, photographs do not do it justice. This painting radiates heat. It glows with a fire of something that is alive and of another world. I could have soaked in its beauty for hours. Studying each brush stroke and line until it it was forever part of me. But time would not have it and ripped me away.
I made my way through to the last of the galleries. Goosebumps and butterflies as each amazing work greeted me with its own story.
Before leaving I granted my self the gift of the hardcover book on the exhibit. Containing images of each and every treasure and their stories, as well as a plate set copied from the peacock charger designed by the great William Morris.
Over all I must say it was one of the best museum experiences I have ever had. Everyone was there for the same reason, to feed their soul. Everyone was respectful and as crowded as it was, one would believe the lot of us had laryngitis.
Unfortunately my time was too short and I left with my soul still hungry for more.
The Cult of Beauty, the Victorian Avant-Garde 1860-1900 may be viewed at The California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, California until June.
The gorgeous and well written book by the same name “Cult of Beauty ” edited by Dr. Lynn Federle Orr and Stephen Calloway, published by V&A, is available for purchase in the museum gift shop (a great way to give back), as well as via www.amazon.com