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Friday, October 31, 2014

Eugene de Blass

The Mussel Gatherers, 1930s, Eugene de Blass                          
Madchenbildnis, Eugene de Blass.
The date on this painting is listed as
1850, making it his earliest known work
...painted when he was seven.
One of the most distressing developments in our era of Postmodern art is how few artists today paint genre. Symptomatic of that fact is the fact that I need to stop at this point and explain what "genre" art is...or more accurately, has been. Genre painting is simply depictions of people doing what people commonly do. As simple as that sounds, it really needs no further explanation. Ever since the fading of what's been termed "the golden age of illustration" (roughly the seventy years leading up to the early 1960s) this type of art, in fact perhaps even the painting skills necessary to render it, have largely disappeared. Even though genre has had a long tradition, culminating in the work of Rockwell, Dohanos, Ben Stahl, and others, this type of art was never all that prestigious a pursuit, barely a notch or two above landscapes and still-lifes. Artists still paint landscapes, a few even still-lifes, but genre has all but disappeared. Why? Two simple letters--TV. Not only did television, and later the Internet, bring an end the large-format magazines, which were the life's blood of such work, but TV itself, in the form of the ever-present sitcom has come to occupying its place in our daily lives. They reflect humorously and intimately who we are culturally.
At the Well, 1872, Eugene de Blass, painted when he was twenty-nine.
(That I can believe.)
Eugene de Blass Self-portrait, 1898
The Italian painter, Eugene de Blass painted genre. Although technically, he was very good at it, the man was no Norman Rockwell...not even an Italian Norman Rockwell. Rockwell ranged all over the American landscape in search of a national cultural portrait. To look at de Blass's work, one might get the idea Italians did nothing but flirt, stand around looking sexy (the girls, that is, he seldom painted men), and that all Italian girls exuded homespun radiant beauty making them irresistible to his rather swarthy suitors. Although Rockwell may rightly be accused of seeing American genre through rose-colored glasses, de Blass seems downright near-sighted, even blind to everything except the aforementioned pretty girls and the occasional pretty boy (below, right). Nonetheless, de Blass' work does bear witness to the fact that Italian painting in the classical (or academic) style did not end with Giovanni Boldini and Silvestro Lega.

His New Hat, 1932, Eugene de Blass
Though born in Albano, near Rome, Eugene de Blass' parents were Austrian, his father, Karl, was a highly versatile artist, painting portraits, religious works, and scenes of Venice where he became a professor in the Academy of Art in 1850 (the portrait at top, right may be by the father, rather than the son, which would make the date quite reasonable). In any case, Karl von Blass (as he was known in Austria) was his son's one and only instructor. One of Eugene de Blass' earliest works (with a likely date, at least) can be see in his At the Well (above). Painted in 1872, it set the stage for any number of similar works all featuring several highly marriageable young ladies flirting outrageously with a single, presumably eligible bachelor (perhaps the only one in town in that he appears in several of de Blass's similar works). His Flirtation at the Well (below) from 1902 is quite similar. As mentioned above, flirtations and romantically aggressive young ladies seem to have been his favorite subject. He simply changed the location and circumstances each time.

Flirtation at the Well, 1902, Eugene de Blass
In the Water, 1914,
Eugene de Blass
It's always hard to tell in viewing an artist's work a century later how much of his or her content was dictated by the ever-present need to earn a living. Some artists, such as Claude Monet, seemed oblivious to this factor (and their financial straits reflected such resistance). If de Blass was not Rockwell, he seems not to have taken after Monet as well. I was rather startled to find two paintings of one of his attractive female models bearing exactly the same pose, clothes, and repose, his Fruit Vendor, and one he titled simply Daydreaming (below, left and right). There's an old saying in business which many have found also applies to art (or at least the art business), "If you stumble upon a good, thing, run with it." That was apparently the case with de Blass in more than one instance. He also painted lots of girls on balconies, which is probably another example applying this rule.

Eugene de Blass
The Fruit Vendor,
Eugene de Blass

Faraway Thoughts, Eugene de Blass
Although de Blass also painted wealthy Venetian society signorine, his stock in trade seems to favor a more earthy vision of female loveliness, while at the same time, gently poking fun at their silly subterfuges in seducing suitors. Around the turn of the century when de Blass painted, an unmarried Italian girl approaching the age of thirty was looked upon as shameful by her peers, even her family. He painted a few nuns (left), one or two nudes, and a few children alongside his "society" portraits, but young people enjoying lighthearted life, love, and laughter, in their endless pursuit of mates seem to have been a driving force in his genre depictions. Eugene de Blass died in Venice in 1932 at the age of eighty-nine.

The Friendly Gossips, 1901, Eugene de Blass


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Architectural Landscapes

Picture Gallery with Views of Ancient Rome, 1758, Giovanni Paulo Panini--                      
Architecture with paintings of architecture                   
The Church at Auvers-sur-Oise, 1890,
Vincent, van Gogh
One of the quickest, easiest means of separating the work of an amateur painter from that of a professional is the simple observation as to whether the artist struggles to handle linear perspective. This skill is so basic, so logical, so critical to even the most elementary landscape containing any man made structure, the mastery of it, or the lack of such, instantly says a great deal about the artist. Otherwise very good artists are often so "right-brained" that sometime, during their self-taught years, they have simply thrown up their hands in resignation, saying, in effect, I can't be bothered. A clumsy handling of perspective is, in fact, often the hallmark of a self-taught artist. Yet, just about any art supply store will have for sale a "how to" book dealing with linear perspective written specifically for those artists learning on their own...if they are so inclined. One of my pet peeves as an art instructor teaching adults to paint were those who insisted upon learning to paint before they even came close to attaining the necessary drawing skills...including perspective.
Three views of the Rouen Cathedral, 1892-94
Architectural Ruins in a Rocky Landscape,
Robert Hubert
Vincent van Gogh was one of those. Some of his early works indicate a great deal of trouble along this line. Although he did show improvement over time, his Church at Auvers-sur-Oise (above, right) as late as 1890 still shows signs of his being less than comfortable in painting architecture. By the same token, Monet's many views of the Rouen Cathedral (above) painted at various times of day, indicates such a complete understanding of the architecture and the means of rendering it, he was able to completely subjugate it to his study of light and color. Artists from the past such as Canaletto, Robert Hubert (right),Giovanni Panini (top and below, left), Alexey Belsky (below), Francesco Guardi, and Edward Hopper have often demonstrated such a mastery of the perspective skills as to suggest they invented them.
Architectural Landscape, 1789, Alexey Belsky 

The Pantheon, 1747, Giovanni Panini.
Interiors can often be more difficult
than exterior architecture. 
Although I'm dealing with landscapes featuring architectural elements here today, there are very few areas of painting that don't, at times, require a working knowledge of perspective. I suppose an artist could spend a lifetime painting only abstracts, still-lifes, and flowers thereby avoiding horizons, vanishing points, and orthogonals, but virtually every other area of content (even portraits) demands at least an instinctive understanding of the skill. Though perspective usually isn't taught using architectural landscape paintings from the past, it seems to me it might be a far more interesting means of doing so. The so-called "left-brained" (highly logical) artists eat this stuff up. But the "right-brained" (visually dominant) artist chafes under the strict rules of linear perspective. Seeing how painters from the past used perspective might well cross over this dichotomy of hemispheric preference.

Architect's Dream, 1840, Thomas Cole.
Village Landscape, Debra Hurd
Before anyone gets the wrong impression, architectural landscape painting is more than just drawing and painting buildings and houses around the corner and down the street. Contemporary artist, Debra Hurd uses it as both inspiration and aspiration in paintings such as her abstract Village Landscape (right). Her efforts are but a recent example of the use of the architectural landscape as a content medium of creative expression. For centuries painters such as Thomas Cole have used imaginary architecture to convey their outlook as to human social development. Cole's five-part "Course of Empire" series utilizes extremely complex architectural renderings in the final three phases, Consummation, Destruction, and Desolation. All three are imaginary. His Architect's Dream (above) from 1840, is likewise a tour de force in perspective rendering of a classical setting that never existed (hence the dream element). Artists today such as Jessica Dinh with her Tuscan Countryside (below) demonstrate that even with computer drawing, painting, and rendering, perspective and architecture remain an important element in creative expression. How else could we know what cities of the future will look like without it?
Tuscan Countryside, Jessica Dinh, 3-D digital rendering.

The Red Stripe, 2012, Terry Leness
And it's not just about fantasies of the past or the future. The architectural landscape as seen by artists living today paints an invaluable insight as to our present cultural existence as well. Terry Leness paints the commonplace, opening our eyes, not so much to the beauty all around us but to the boring conformity that so much of our architectural landscape has become. His 2013 Log Jam II (below) takes a hard look at a sort of free-floating homelessness as seen in the shape of the aluminum "tin cans" seen littering our national parks and campgrounds, and the ugly, leftover flotsam when these temporary, portable abodes have served their purpose (below, right). Moreover, Leness does not limit himself to temporary housing, but paints permanent housing which, perhaps, should have been temporary with the same stark simplicity. His The Red Line (left) from 2012 suggesting that not all the architecture of the past can be exalted for its great grace and beauty.
Log Jam II, 2013, Terry Leness
American Dream, 2011, Terry Leness
We like to think of American architecture today as being bright, shiny, clean, and pristine. All too often we should also add to these adjectives abandoned, underwater, deteriorating, and tiresome. Paul Davis pursues this realm of present-day architectural landscape not far removed from the architectural ruins seen in the capriccio paintings of Hubert and Panini. Their capriccios were seen as romantic. Davis's Empty Pool, Modern House, Palms (below), is simply sad. We might consider it David Hockney's A Bigger Splash without the splash.

Empty Pool, Modern House, Palms, Paul Davis
My own exploration of the architectural landscape over the years has been varied, and largely oriented toward the past. However, the perspective skills came in handy as I was designing our home back in the late 1970s (useful in persuading my wife to let me try novel ideas in decorating). Otherwise, most of my painted structures have been historic as seen in my version of Philadelphia's famous Elfreth's Alley (below), said to be this country's oldest continuously inhabited street; and claimed by some to have once been the home address of Benjamin Franklin, who, in any case, designed the streetlamps (now electrified) still in use there today.

Copyright, Jim Lane
Elfreth's Alley, 1979, Jim Lane


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Slava Raškaj

Deer, Slava Raskaj                      
Water Lilies in the Botanical Garden, 1899,
Slava Raskaj
I'm not sure who it was, but some very wise observer once commented, "We are all disabled in our own ways." Some overcome their disabilities to succeed. Others hide them. Some people have even become famous because of them. In this regard, artists are little different than most other such people. We have all no doubt seen photos of painters so intent upon expressing themselves they have learned to paint with the brush in their mouths. I used to warn my students in handling brushes and pencils in the classroom to be careful, since there wasn't much demand for blind artists. Yet, I think I vaguely recall writing about one here several years ago (perhaps just nearly blind). Beyond that, I once graduated a student who went on to become an art therapist, one who helped people overcome their disabilities through art. As for my own disabilities, in getting older, my eyesight has grown weaker and my wife tells me my hearing is fading (I think she's imagining). Fortunately, in my case, the Italians invented eyeglasses around 1286 and today, a store in the mall makes them " about an hour."
Slava Raskaj, Self-portrait, 1898
Slava Raskaj is said to have been the most outstanding Croatian watercolor artist of the latter part of the 19th-century. She was not blind, but was born deaf in 1877. Thus, not only could she not hear, she could speak intelligibly only with great difficulty. She was born Friderika Slavomira Olga Raškaj in the small, northern Croatian town of Ozalj near the Slovenian border. Her mother ran the local post office and was an amateur watercolorist who passed on her interest in art to her two daughters, Slava and Paula. At the age of eight, Slava was sent to Vienna to a school for the deaf where she honed her stills in drawing. A bright and quite attractive young girl (left), despite her inability to hear, she learned to speak both German and French while working to perfect her watercolor technique.

Spring in Ozalj, Slava Raskaj--her hometown.
Upon finishing school and returning home, a local teacher prevailed upon her mother to send her to Zagreb for further art instruction under the renown Italian painter, Vlaho Bukovac, only to discover he refused to be bothered with teaching a women, and one with communication difficulties at that. Slava's disappointment was relieved with the Croatian history painter, Bela Čikoš Sesija, took her into his own studio where he began teaching her for next two years. She lived at the State Institute for Deaf-mute Children and opened her own studio in a spare room at the local morgue.

A Yellow Cock and White Chicken, Slava Raskaj
Tree in Winter, 1890, Slava Raskaj
Quite apart from her handicap, or perhaps because of it, Slava Raskaj was not a typical artist. She took up painting outside, even in winter, at a time when few artists in Croatia, especially women artist, did so. She seems to have relished a rather solitary lifestyle, choosing subjects which today can be seen as reflecting her loneliness. Her still-lifes often feature strange juxtapositions of items. Many artists have included eggs in their still-lifes, but few have ever dared paint both the eggs and the chicken, not to mention a rooster added for good measure. Her A Yellow Cock and White Chicken (above), is not just an exceptional still-life of a no-doubt difficult subject, but all the more so in being so well rendered in watercolor. Notice the two fowl are tied down.

Dead Nature, Slava Raskaj.
I'm not sure if that's the title of the still-life or simply another term for "still-life" itself.
Lotus for my Parents,
Slava Raskaj
Around 1889, Raskaj began painting inside the Zagreb Botanical Gardens. Her Water Lilies in the Botanical Garden (top, right) from 1899, ranks as one of her best. She painted several. Lotus for My Parents (right) stands apart from the others for its vertical format, not often seen in such works. As time progressed, Raskaj's still-lifes became rather macabre as seen in her Dead Nature (above). Nonetheless, during the early 1890s, she turned out some of her best work, including the rather startling group of migrating deer (top). She seems not to have been any less adept at painting portrait watercolors than still-lifes or nature. Her own self-portrait, as well as the young child (below) are both outstanding in that portraits in watercolor require skills most such artists seem not to possess (or wish to display, at least). Her title for the child's portrait seems to suggest he may have been every bit as much trouble as the poultry.

Impatient in my Studio, 1897, Slava Raskaj
Raskaj's watercolors were first displayed in St. Petersburg in 1898 and a years later at the Exposition Universelle in Paris. About the same time, she began exhibiting symptoms of depression. She was hospitalized for a time then released to her family for home care. However, her condition continued to worsen. She was institutionalized in 1903 at a psychiatric hospital where she died of tuberculosis in 1906. She painted nothing after about 1901. Nearly a century passed before Raskaj's work came to be appreciated. Around 2004 a short film was made about her life and a large retrospective of some 185 of her works was presented at a Zagreb art gallery. Croatia issued a stamp featuring one of her paintings while a Zagreb bank issued a commemorative coin with her visage engraved upon it. However, perhaps the ultimate tribute to her work can be found in the fact that the Internet is rife with fakes, forgeries, and counterfeits of her watercolors.

Still life with sea star, Slava Raskaj (not a fake)


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Famous Fall Foliage

Copyright, Jim Lane                                                 
Hyde Park Ride, 1978, Jim Lane                                      
Tis the season to be...raking leaves...the jolly season comes later once they're all piled up and composted. I was about to start on ours, then looked up into our still pretty heavily green oak trees and realized less than half of their annual autumn attributes are still firmly attached to their arboreal anchorage. I guess I'll wait and get them all later. I hate raking leaves anyway. I mean, why bother, they'll all be covered up with snow soon enough anyway. Or, maybe I'll just take my paints, set up my easel in the front yard, and make the most of them. I'd venture to say there's few painters alive today who have not, at one time or another, done just that...or maybe in the back yard. Of course, the urge is not at all hard to understand. Never is nature more glorious than when she gets dressed up for Halloween. With the possible exception of snowy winters, I'd rather paint fall foliage, preferably not on the ground, than any other. Summer is monotonously green. Spring is delicate and fragile. Winter is brutal. Autumn seems warm and cozy.
The Studio Boat, 1876, Claude Monet
Landscape with Trees, 1881, Vincent van Gogh
I suppose it would surprise no one that some of our greatest artists down through the centuries, even those who are not well known for painting landscapes, have succumbed to the temptation to try and capture the fleeting frills of fall foliage. I tend to fall into that category. I've always prided myself in being able to paint almost literally anything...and I have. Though portraits and modern-day genre have long been my preferences, I've painted more than my share of landscapes (top) for one simple reason--they sell. I'm assuming that's why so many other artist paint them too. The impressionist loved landscapes, starting with Monet (above), Renoir (below, left), van Gogh (left), Gauguin (below, right), even Picasso (below) have done some pretty heavy dipping into their red oxides, ochers, sienas, yellows, and cadmiums in an effort to avoid raking leaves.
Breton Landscape David's Mill,
1894,Paul Gauguin
The Duck Pond, 1873,
Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Landscape of Gosol, Catalonia, 1906 (Rose Period), Pablo Picasso

Sweet Memories, Norman Rockwell
Even artists whom you wouldn't normally expect to find painting landscapes count at least a few such paintings tucked away in their museum-owned portfolios--Norman Rockwell (left) and David Hockney (below), for instance. In other cases, artists you'd fully expect to paint the prettily pigmented panoply, have done so with surprising rarity--Anna Mary Robertson Moses, for example. I finally found one, but I had to look long and hard among the works of Thomas Hart Benton to come up with a fall scene, his Sorghum Mill from 1968. The famous American landscape artist Thomas Moran's Autumn Landscape, (below, left) however, practically jumped out into my lap. Rembrandt painted fall scenes (bottom). Yet English artist, J.M.W. Turner, apparently didn't.
Woldgate Woods, 2008, David Hockney
Of course, among those artists not so rich and famous, the avalanche of colored leaves assaulting the web surfer's tired eyes is very nearly overwhelming, from childlike hen scratches to stunning realism so astounding you almost forget what you came looking for. I've looked at fall scenes from virtually every country on earth, and (I'm trying not to show bias here), but I think I can safely say, the very best such paintings seem to come from the United States. Part of that has to do with geography and climate, of course. Over most of this broad patch of woods from Maine to Monterey there tends to be four very distinctive seasons of the year. Thus the landscape reflected in the eyes of artists changes predictably over the months offering endless, if repetitive, source material, whether, in plein air, photographic, or imaginary.
Autumn Landscape, 1876
Thomas B. Moran
I'll Catch, 1955-56,
Anna Mary Robertson Moses
But there's more to it than that. Influenced, no doubt, by the rich tradition of landscape painting flowing across the sea from northern Europe, once the landscape in this country ceased to be threatening, it became glorified. Starting with the earliest days of our republic in the Hudson River Valley and moving westward with the frontier, American artist have always striven to get a handle upon its wild and wondrous beauty. I mentioned Moran (above, left), but there's also the Bierstadt, Innes, Homer, Avery, Church, Sloan, Wood, Hassam, Moses (above, right)--a nearly endless embarrassment of riches nearly beyond belief--and that doesn't even count the huge congregation of Impressionist worshippers from the early 20th century (so many I've gotten tired of writing about them).
Sorghum Mill, 1968, Thomas Hart Benton
I think I'd be safe in saying the entire category of landscape painting, at least in the U.S., is the largest single content area in painting (photography too), even outstripping portraiture, the usual leader in most other countries. One reason for that is, in fact, photography. In Europe and elsewhere, they painted people's faces for hundreds of years before they began photographing them. On this side of the Atlantic, painted portraits dominated the art market for less than a century before photography nudged it aside. However, photography, until the time of Ansel Adams at least, was seen as woefully inadequate in capturing the colorful, expansive, magnificence of the American landscape, with or without its autumn leaves. Of course, advancements in color film and today's digital color have changed all that; but for some unknown reason, it doesn't seem to have changed our love of the painted landscape...or my hatred of fallen leaves.

Landscape with Castle, 1643, Rembrandt van Rijn. Notice, the castle gets top billing, not the colorful season of the years.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Julia Morgan

Copyright, Jim Lane
One of Julia Morgan's most lasting works, her makeshift office at San Simeon.
Copyright, Jim Lane
Hearst's Humble Habitat.
One of the "must-see" items on our travel itinerary this spring as we romped around the outskirts of the American West was the Hearst Castle, known as San Simeon, located on the rugged California coastal highway (U.S. 1) roughly halfway between L.A. and San Francisco. Built over a broad span of years during the first half of the 20th-century, perhaps the most unique aspect about the mountain top of unique prospects is the fact that the whole affair was designed by a woman, Julia Morgan. Actually, it might be more correct to say it was designed by both Morgan and the wealthy newspaper tycoon, William Randolph Hearst. He inspired it, she made it happen. Her on-site office (top), a non-descript shed out back is still there. She promised to have it torn down when the job was completed. Hearst died before that happened so the demolition never took place.

I have, however, written at length regarding San Simeon (click on the link above). In doing so, I barely mention Julia Morgan in passing. This time around, I'll barely mentioned Hearst in passing. Though Hearst was Morgan's richest and most consistent client, San Simeon was, perhaps, a little more than a hobby, for Morgan, but it was not far removed from moonlighting. By the time she met and went to work for the spendthrift tycoon, she was already a bright, hardworking, sought-after architect with her own architectural firm in San Francisco. From a creative point of view, I'm sure she found Hearst and his architectural whims very exciting and no doubt as frustrating as they were fulfilling. On the other hand, having to travel more than two hundred miles south on weekends to supervise construction of the massive undertaking, must have seemed something of a nuisance at times. Although he may have thought so, Hearst was not Morgan's only client...far from it.
Julia Morgan, ca. 1950s.
Julia Morgan was born in 1872, the second child of Charles Bill Morgan and the wealthy heiress Eliza Woodland Parmelee (a fortune made in cotton). Morgan was an ambitious mining engineer bent on making his fortune in the California gold fields. He didn't. The family ended up living in Oakland, on a stipend from Eliza's father. Julia's mother managed the money and ran the household, serving as a strong role model for her daughter as a competent business woman. When old man Parmelee died in 1880, his widow moved to Oakland with all their money, taking up residence with the Morgans, proving to be every bit as strong a female presence as that of her daughter. When Julia's mother and grandmother urged her to have a debutant party, the equally headstrong Julia resisted. She insisted a woman should put her career ahead of her marriage prospects. She headed for the University of California in Berkley to study civil engineering. She never did get around to marriage.
Julia Morgan was an outstanding more ways that one...she was the only woman in her class and the first of her gender in California to graduate and become a licensed engineer. Julia's mentor and greatest supporter was the eccentric California architect, Bernard Maybeck, whom Morgan greatly admired and whom proved to be her strongest influence. Maybeck encouraged Julia to go to Paris and study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts where she was promptly refused entry into their architecture program--she was a woman, after all. A year later, however, in 1897, the school was forced by popular female demand to open its doors to women. Even at that, her path was not easy. She flunked an exam (by a few points) for a second year of study, then spent two years being tutored before being admitted for an additional year's study, only to run up against a rule disallowing women over thirty to attend classes. Nonetheless, she managed to obtain her certificate by designing a palatial theater for a wealthy supporter of the school. In 1902, she became the first female architect to graduate from the prestigious French academy.
The Hearst Greek Theater, University of California, Berkley, 1903-04, Julia Morgan.
Upon returning to California, Morgan went to work for an architectural firm busy at the time designing a master plan for the University of California. There she gained early experience designing the decorative elements for several buildings on the Berkley campus, including the Hearst Mining Building and after that, the Hearst Greek Theater, which first brought her to the attention of Hearst himself. She came highly recommended to Hearst by her boss as an excellent draughtsman whom he had to pay almost nothing because she was a woman. Morgan saved her "almost nothing" and began her moonlighting habit in order to put away the means to open her own office. In 1904, she chalked up another first, becoming the first woman in California to become a licensed architect.
The Margaret Carnegie Library, Mills College, Oakland, 1905, Julia Morgan
El Campanile, Mills College,
Oakland, California, 1904,
Julia Morgan.
Among Morgan's first projects was work for Mills College, a campanile and later the Margaret Carnegie Library (named for Andrew Carnegie's daughter). Despite being off to a good start, perhaps Julia Morgan's greatest asset was here unwitting sense of timing. She was licensed, established, and a practicing architect when, on Wednesday, April 18, 1906, tragedy struck--the San Francisco earthquake. The existing architecture shook, some of it came down, and a massive fire consumed much of what didn't. Suddenly, experienced architects and engineers were worth the weight in gold (though, for the petite Miss Morgan, wasn't all that much). The huge Fairmont Hotel (below) perched atop San Francisco's Nob Hill, was brand new, awaiting it's grand opening at the time. Fortunately, it survived the quake with only minor damage, but was heavily damaged in the ensuing fire. Julia Morgan was hired to design and oversee the reconstruction of what was to become the city's finest hotel. In what's considered, even today, as something of an architectural miracle, and in no small part due to Morgan's efforts, the hotel reopened, exactly one year to the day after the quake. (Incidentally, almost 40 years later, the United Nations Charter was signed in the hotel's Gold Room, which had been designed and refurbished by Morgan after the fire.)

The Fairmont Hotel atop Nob Hill as reconstructed by Morgan following the 1906 earthquake and fire.
Notice all the empty lots in the area resulting from the fire  .
San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel today, over a hundred years after Julia Morgan "saved" it.

Julia Morgan's Fairmont Hotel Gold Room, birthplace of the United Nations.
The Bavarian styled Wyntoon House, restored
by Morgan, once owned by Hearst's mother.
Although Julia Morgan became best known for her collaboration with William Randolph Hearst in building his "castle," following their first introduction in 1903, Hearst channeled several other projects her way. Among them was, the Los Angeles Examiner Building around 1914; Wyntoon (left), an estate Hearst inherited from his mother, which included a castle and "Bavarian village" of four villas all on 50,000 acres near Mount Shasta in Northern California; as well as a Mission-style ranch house Hearst called the Hacienda near Jolon, California. Morgan was, at the time of Hearst's death in 1951, also working on plans for Babicora, Hearst's 1,625,000-acre cattle ranch and retreat near Chihuahua, Mexico.

Morgan's Honolulu YWCA (the three-story portion only, not the high-rise in back).
Julia Morgan's own home in San
Francisco--two structures, one
in which she lived, the other, a
duplex (on the left), she rented.
In addition to being Hearst's favorite architect, Julia Morgan also had a long-standing professional relationship with the YWCA starting with a recommendation from Hearst's mother which resulted in her first effort in Pacific Grove near Monterey, California. Later she designed YWCAs in Utah, Arizona, and Hawaii. Morgan's lifetime list of buildings number around 700 including several houses in the San Francisco, Berkley, and Oakland (her own can be seen a right), a number of churches, a theater named for her, and numerous Mills College buildings. With the death of her most important client in 1951, Morgan was able to go into retirement. She died in 1957 at the age of eighty-five. After her death, she was inducted into the California Hall of Fame (2008), and just this year (2014), Julia Morgan was awarded a gold medal by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) for her lifetime of achievement and excellence, allowing her yet another "first woman" distinction.

The Hearst Hacienda ranch house near Jolon, California, (now a hotel) designed by Julia Morgan in 1930. It's not San Simeon, but then, it's only a day's ride by horseback from her most unforgettable effort.