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Palaces Facing the Avenue of Palms
The adoption of the "walled-city" plan for the Exposition meant the grouping of the more imposing architectural effects in the interior courts, the outer facades simply forming parts of a practically continuous wall about the whole. Inspired by Spanish architecture of the Renaissance, the intention was to keep the wall spaces in general quite bare, concentrating the decorative effects in rich "spots" at carefully chosen intervals. Thus the outer facades of the central group of palaces combine a simple general form with a series of richly ornamental portals. The architect who as entrusted with the designing of the wall and all the portals was W. B. Faville of Bliss and Faville.
Certain architectural and sculptural units are repeated throughout the central group. Each building has a low central dome, seldom seen when one is close to any of the main buildings, but adding greatly to the decorative effect from a slight distance. These domes are of Byzantine style, and are colored in harmonizing shades of green and pink. The small repeated corner domes add another Eastern touch, and are especially effective at night. The outer wall is edged all the way around with a simple cornice and a few rows of dull red tiles, distinctly Southern in feeling, and therefore harmonizing with both the Spanish and the Italian Renaissance doorways.
The Winged Victory is the fine decorative figure that crowns the gables of all the palaces of the walled-city. It is broadly modelled, massive and yet refined, and from any viewpoint stands out in beautiful silhouette against the sky. It is by Louis Ulrich.
Palace of Varied Industries
Before turning to the more important south facade, it is well to look at the east wall, with its dignified and colorful portal. This is Roman in style of architecture, to harmonize with the Palace of Machinery opposite. It is similar in general form to the memorial arches and gateways of the Romans, but in the use of architectural motives and in decoration it is of Italian Renaissance style. The niches at each end of the gallery contain figures of The Miner, by Albert Weinert. The facade is ornamented with buttresses at regular intervals, carrying figures of the California Bear holding a scutcheon with the state seal.
Returning to the Avenue of Palms and the south facade, one sees the most important artistic feature of the building, the central portal. This is a copy, except for the figures filling the niches, of the famous doorway of the Hospital of Santa Cruz at Toledo, Spain. It is in Spanish Renaissance style, of that especially rich type known as "Plateresque," due to its likeness to the work of the silversmiths of the time. For its grace of composition, its exquisite detail, its total effect of richness and depth, this portal is worthy of long study.
The sculpture of the portal is all by Ralph Stackpole. In the lower niches are replicas of "The Man with a Pick," a figure that has been justly admired as a sincere portrayal of a simple laboring type. The relief panel in the tympanum represents various types of industry. From left to right the figures typify Spinning, Building, and Agriculture (or the clothing, sheltering and feeding of mankind), and Manual Labor, and Commerce. The group in the niche above the arch shows a young laborer taking the load from the shoulders of an old man. The single figure at the top of the arch shows the laborer thinking, and is called "Power." Note how all these sculptures, while having individual interest, fit unobtrusively into the lace-like portal.
Palace of Manufactures
The wall of this building is broken by pilasters and inset decorative panels, and by a series of niches with animal head fountains. The central portal is pure Renaissance architecture, again suggestive of the Roman gateway in form.
The sculptures of the doorway, including the two figures of male and female labor in the niches, and the long high-relief panel, are by Mahonri Young, who is noted for his simple, powerful treatment of modern themes. The panel represents various branches of manufacture, including metal work, blacksmithing, pottery-making, spinning, and architectural sculpture.
Palace of Liberal Arts
The facade here exactly duplicates that just described, even to the niche figures and panel in the portal.
Palace of Education
The Palace of Education has three Renaissance portals on the south facade. These are more Spanish in feeling than those of the two palaces just passed. The tympanum panel of the central doorway may be taken to represent kindergarten teaching, instruction of boys and girls, and self-education in young manhood. It is by Gustave Gerlach. The two panels in the walls over the minor doorways treat very obviously of educational subjects. They are flat in more senses than one, lacking the life of the central tympanum group. They are by students of two American art schools.
The west facade of the Palace of Education is dominated by an immense half-dome, impressive in size and attractively decorated. The style of architecture here is mainly Roman, to harmonize with the Fine Arts Palace which it faces across the lagoon. There are two splendid architectural fountains, under the half-dome here and under, that of the Palace of Food Products.
Sculpture. Flanking the great arch are columns carrying the nude figure of a man, with hands crossed, gazing fixedly in thought. In the official list this is called "Philosophy" or "Thought," and from it the immense portal is called "The Half-dome of Philosophy." But the same figure occupies the corresponding position before the Food Products Palace, and is there called "Physical Vigor." The truth is that the artist designed the statue to suggest that finest of all unions of strength, the physically powerful man thinking. Thus the figure is appropriate to both a food products building and an education building. The figure is strong, but is not so convincing or appealing as the same artist's "Man with a Pick," in the Varied Industries portal. Within the half-dome is a repeated figure with a scroll inscribed "Libris," by Albert Weinert.
The six niches in the west wall have two repeated statues by Charles R. Harley, known as "The Triumph of the Field" and "Abundance." They are simply repeated from the Food Products Palace to the north, where they properly belong, and will be treated in the next chapter in connection with that building.
On the north facade of the Palace of Education are duplicates of the three south portals, with the same sculptured panels.