|Home -> Other California History Books -> Palaces and Courts of the Exposition -> Court of the Four Seasons|
Court of the Four Seasons
It will be noticed that this court is planted mainly with grey-green foliage, the banner poles being of the same color.
Coprosma (from Chili - a shiny-leafed shrub on north front).
Cotoneaster bufolia (border).
English yews in couples of three groups.
Architect - Henry Bacon of New York.
Architecture - Italian Renaissance.
There is a strong feeling of the architectural influence of Hadrian's Villa, near Rome, when the eye rests on the half dome and also on the treatment of the columns in front of the fountains of the seasons.
This is one of the chief beauty spots of the Exposition. A quiet, reposeful, happy place where birds have built their nests and where they sing their carols of spring.
As you pass into this court from the bay, or north side, your attention is drawn almost immediately to the bucrania, or bulls' heads, between festoons of flowers.
This is only a Renaissance motive, but the mind wanders back to the harvest festivals of olden days, when, after the great harvest procession was over, the bulls were sacrificed to the gods as a reward for the abundant harvest. The same idea is worked out in "The Feast of the Sacrifice," the magnificent bull groups atop the pylons (by Albert Jaegers), where youths and maidens lead the bulls in the harvest procession. Great garlands suggest the festivity.
The whole court is an expression of the abundance of the harvests - especially those of California.
Ceres, the goddess of agriculture, with her wreath of cereals and her corn sceptre, has just poised on the top of the lovely fountain (by Mrs. Evelyn Longman), the die of which tells you by its cameo figures that this is the fountain of young, fresh, joyous nature. The graceful, happy creatures with garlands and fruits glide past you in song, shaking the tambourine or softly piping their roundelays.
Jolly satyrs, the happy creatures of the woodland, spout water into the basin below.
The Food Products Palace is on one side, the Agricultural Palace on the other, and the suggestions worked out in the corn of the Ionic capital, the cereal wreaths on the frieze, the sheaves of wheat, are most happy decorations for just this court.
Pass to the Pool beyond and stop to read the quotation (from Spenser's "Faerie Queene") on the western gateway.
"So forth issew'd the seasons of the yeare
Facing the half dome, walk first to the second niche to the right of the colonnade to examine Furio Piccirilli's Seasons.
Spring - A pyramidal group with Spring with her flowers in the center of the group. To the right is modest, timid, fresh young Flora, bringing her wealth of flowers.
To the left, one sees man adoring, bringing to mind Tennyson's lines from Locksley Hall.
"In the spring a young man's fancies
Lightly turn to thoughts of love."
Here is that fine feeling that one has in beautiful springtime - the adoration for all fresh young life. Look above now at Milton Bancroft's murals to left and right. He has painted all of the murals in this court.
"Spring" is here in floral dress and the shepherd pipes sweet notes.
"Seed-time" - This is the time when the seed bag stands open so that the crops for the coming year may be sown.
Marble group of Summer - Go to the left, along the corridor beyond the gateway, to the second niche - this group expresses fruition.
The mother brings to her husband the babe, the fruit of their love.
The laborer at the right brings in the first harvest.
Summer - This is the period of the year when man amuses himself, when the games are in progress. One sees the disc thrower at the left resting after the game. Summer is crowning the victor of the canoe race.
Fruition - Fruits, vegetables, flowers fulfill the meaning of the subject.
Now pass out into the open to the niche at the left of the gateway of the east.
In the niche is Autumn, a mature figure indicative of the maturity of the year. (Mr. Piccirilli calls her Providence.) It is the time of the harvests. The apples, the grapes, and even the human family are being harvested. The wine is being made and the great vine-decked jars are filled with the ruby fluid.
Autumn - The colors speak of autumn. Here is seen the amphora of wine, the tambourine, the rhyton, the Greek drinking horn, and the raised Greek cup - all suggesting the time of festivity after the harvests.
Harvest, and one sees the garnered wheat and vegetables.
Standing between the two central columns and looking toward the half dome, the eye wanders to the summit, and there, seated on her great cornucopia, the symbol of abundance, is Harvest with her plenteous supply of luscious fruits.
The dates from the south are being borne in on one side, while the great sheaves of wheat are seen on the left.
Standing on the pedestal at the right of the half dome is Rain (by Albert Jaegers) catching the drops in her shell.
Sunshine (by Albert Jaegers) shielding her eyes with the long palm branch - the rain and the sunshine so necessary for the harvests.
Walk over to see the detail of the capitals and bases of the columns.
On the capitals of these pedestals, on which Rain and Sunshine stand, are the small figures of harvesters - a most charming, original treatment.
At the bases one sees harvest scenes.
The agriculturists pass along to their labors. The women and children accompany the laborers, expecting to help in the many duties of the harvest field. The dog, wagging his tail, follows after the children, and all is activity.
You will now find it convenient to examine the murals on either side the great half dome.
Facing the Dome.
On the right is Man Receiving Instruction in Nature's Laws. The work is perfectly plain. You could not go astray if you simply read the inscriptions.
An interesting thing to notice is that "Mother Earth" is a man bearing fruits and that "Father Neptune" is a woman with a trident.
Nature's laws are applied to:
Earth, Water, Fire.
Love, Life (protecting the flame of life) and Death.
On the left is:
Art Crowned by Time.
The queen of art with her sceptre and palette (with the suggestion of architecture in the temple in the background) is crowned by Father Time, holding his hour-glass. His scythe is seen in the background. Time is bestowing the laurel wreath. At the sides stand the arts of -
The emerald pool is before you wreathed with the cotoneaster bufolia with its wealth of red berries.
Pass now to the last season of the year in the niche to the left of the half dome, Winter.
Before you is naked winter. Back of her is the leafless tree, with splitting bark.
At the left one feels that man rests after the activities of the harvest season, but there is an added idea in Mr. Piccirilli's words, "In winter, the central figure is Nature resting, or rather in a state of conception. To the right an old man is resting after having prepared the soil for the seed; at the right a strong man is sowing."
Winter with the snow on the ground.
The fire is necessary; faggots have been gathered; the animals are brought in for the winter food.
The time for spinning has arrived during the long winter evenings (considering the life of today this idea is almost obsolete).
Festivity - Winter strikes the strings of the harp and gaiety is about to glide forth.
The seasons are again suggested by names of the signs of the zodiac on the gateways,
Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricornus, Aquarius, Pisces.
Look thru the entrance into the Court of Palms at the Horticultural Palace across the way - a fine green and white picture.
Turn back into the Court of the Four Seasons and below the half dome will be seen Albert Jaeger's
Nature (there is a great probability that this will not be placed).
Mother Earth, the great mother, sits in the center.
On the left, carrying the shell, is the Sea.
On the right, upholding the globe, is the Heavens.
Read the quotation from George Sterling's "The Triumph of Bohemia" to make the connection with your Nature group:
"For lasting happiness we turn our eyes to one alone
Near by are August Jaeger's figures of Abundance, four times repeated on each gateway; also his spandrel figures, still adding harvest thoughts.
Walk along the colonnade to the right -
As you pass the fountains, you will notice how the water slips its silvery pink reflection from the wall down the terraces into the pool below, producing almost a sunrise or a sunset effect.
The long hanging vine on the wall above is muhlenbeckia, the so-called maidenhair vine.
The shorter vine is lotus bertolletti, showing later its red claw-like flowers.