The California School of Design: Supplement of the Mark Hopkins Institute Review of Art

[article from] The Mark Hopkins Institute Review of Art: An Illustrated Magazine
June, 1902
, Volume 1, Number 5

Edited by Robert Howe Fletcher
Published by the San Francisco Art Association at San Francisco, California

The School of Design, of the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art, held its annual exhibition in April. The excellent character of the year's work warranted its being placed on the walls of the principal gallery of the Institute, and the importance thus given it was afterwards fully justified by the interest it aroused. The success of this exhibition and the fact that it celebrated in a way the Thirtieth Anniversary of the organizing of the San Francisco Art Association makes a few words about the school appropriate.

It was in March, 1872, that the Association was established by certain leading artists and public-spirited citizens whose object was the promotion and cultivation of the Fine Arts in the community. In furtherance of these aims one of the first acts of the Association was the founding of an academy for the teaching of drawing, painting and modeling. This academy, called the California School of Design, began its career on February 9, 1874. In the previous year Hon. William Alvord, President of the Association, had corresponded with the French Minister of Fine Arts with a view of purchasing a collection of casts for the use of the school. But the French government, in courteous acknowledgment of the liberal subscriptions made by the citizens

[Photograph of the Institute, with caption:] ENTRANCE TO THE SCHOOL OF DESIGN, MARK HOPKINS INSTITUTE OF ART

of San Francisco to a relief fund for the sick and wounded soldiers of France during the Franco-Prussian war, generously gave the Art Association an admirable collection of copies from the original marbles in the Louvre, including twenty-five pieces of the Parthenon frieze. The Association at the same time bought additional casts, and studies to the value of a thousand dollars. This very creditable equipment for so young a school has been added to most liberally in subsequent years, sometimes by purchase, sometimes through the generosity of individuals, notably that of Mr. Edward F. Searles, who has presented the school with a large number of busts, bas-reliefs and life-size statues, replicas of the work of the most famous sculptors.


Public exhibitions of the work of the pupils were held at the close of each session and prizes consisting of two gold medals, three silver medals and four diplomas were awarded at the end of each year. The gold medals, one for painting and one for drawing, were afterwards named the William Alvard and Benjamin P. Avery medals in complimentary recognition of the services these gentlemen had rendered the Association and the School. These prizes were supplemented in 1891 by a gift from Mr. W. E. Brown of a sum of money to be applied annually to the purchase of a gold medal to be awarded to the scholar doing the best drawing in the life class, to be known as the W. E. Brown medal, and in 1894, by a similar gift from Mr. James D. Phelan, for a gold medal to be awarded annually to the pupil doing the best work in the modeling class. In later years it was found desirable to change these prizes into annual scholarships, eight of which are now awarded at the close of each school year.

Mr. Virgil Williams, an artist of great ability, who had studied for ten years in the best academies of Rome, was the first director and instructor of the school, which office he held until his death in December, 1886. Since that time the faculty has been gradually enlarged to meet the increasing demands of the school and has comprised among its members nearly all of the well-known artists of California, among whom may be mentioned Mr. Thomas Hill, Mr. Ernest Narjot, Mr. W. E. Rollins, Mr. Emil Carlson, Mr. Amedee Joullin, Mr. R. D. Yelland, Mr. Oscar Kunath, Mr. Lee Lash, Mr. Harry Stuart Fonda and Mr. Douglas Tilden. From time to time new departments have been added, such as classes for modeling from the life and antique; night classes for drawing from the life and antique, and a Saturday class in drawing for the accommodation of teachers and pupils of the public schools. In 1893 the school became affiliated with the University of California, entitling it to confer a University Certificate of Proficiency in the Graphic Arts. The faculty is composed at the present time of the following members: Mr. Arthur F. Mathews, Dean, in charge of the classes in painting from life, costumed model, head and still life; Mr. John A. Stanton, in charge of the daily classes in drawing from the antique and still life; Mr. Robert I. Aitken, in charge of the classes in modeling from life and from casts; Mr. Aaron Altmann, in charge of classes in


[Photograph of portrait class, with caption:] PORTRAIT CLASS, SCHOOL OF DESIGN, MARK HOPKINS INSTITUTE OF ART

[Photograph of women's modeling class, with caption:] WOMEN'S MODELING CLASS, SCHOOL OF DESIGN, MARK HOPKINS INSTITUTE OF ART

perspective and sketching; Mr. C. Chapel Judson, in charge of the night classes; Mrs. Alice B. Chittenden, in charge of the Saturday class; Mr. Robert H. Fletcher, lecturer on history of art, and Dr. Harry E. Alderson, lecturer on anatomy. The affairs of the school are under the immediate control of a committee appointed by the Board of Directors of the Association, the membership of the present committee consisting of Mr. L. P. Latimer, Chairman; Mr. Harry W. Seawell, Secretary; Mr. Henry Heyman, Miss Evelyn McCormick, Mr. Newton J. Thaip, Miss Mary C. Brady, Mr. Frederick Tillmann, Jr. and Mr. John M. Gamble.


Housed at first in rented rooms of rather inadequate proportions the conditions of the school were steadily bettered by the fostering care of those having its interests in charge until finally through the munificence of Mr. Edward F. Searles it entered into possession of its present admirable home. Mr. Searles deeded the property now known as the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art to the University of California for the uses of the Art Association, in February, 1893. The following year he remodeled one of the buildings for the exclusive use of the school.

This school building is a three-story edifice heated with a furnace and having all the appliances and conveniences of a modern school of art. In addition to these extensive accommodations the still further expansion of the classes has necessitated the fitting up of the lower story of the recently built Mary Frances Searles Gallery for the modeling department. All of the rooms are spacious, well-ventilated and comfortable, while the beautiful and picturesque grounds in which the school is situated and the adjacent art museum with its picture galleries, art library and reading room, to which the students have free access, all serve to render the school unusually attractive. In fact, with its able corps of instructors, its past traditions, its excellent present facilities and equipment for practical work and its congenial surroundings there are few schools in the country that surpass it. This assertion is amply borne out by the reputation that the school has achieved not only in this country but in Europe where the late Benjamin Constant took occasion to publicly compliment it before his class in the Julian Academy. And if any further evidence is needed it may be found in the long list of its students who have in after life achieved not only distinction for themselves but honor for the city and state in which they were educated.



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