Beniamino (Benny) Bufano, sculpture, St Francis of Assisi
Saint Francis is the patron saint of San Francisco. Born Giovanni Francesco di Bernardone; 1181/1182 - 1226, Saint Francis was an Italian Catholic friar and preacher. He founded the men's Franciscan Order, the women's Order of St. Clare, and the lay Third Order of Saint Francis. St. Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history. The statue was brought to Fisherman's Wharf to stand a few yards from the Longshoremen's Memorial Building honoring famed unionist Harry Bridges. The statue stands 18 feet tall and weights 12.5 tons. In 1928, while the statue was being exhibited in Paris, where Bufano sculpted it, the English art Critic Roger Fry wrote that is was "the most significant piece of sculpture
done within 500 years." The statue was brought to San Francisco in 1955.
Laocoön and His Sons, Legion of Honor Museum. (Copy, the original is in the Vatican)
One of the major discoveries of the Italian Renaissance, this sculptural grouping was lost for centuries but found in 1506 near Rome, by a farmer plowing a field. It depicts Laocoön (a Trojan priest) who was attacked, with his two sons, by giant serpents sent by the gods as punishment for not wishing to allow the Trojan horse entrance to the city.
"Drinking Man" by sculptor Melvin Earl Cummings is a statue in Marini Plaza on Columbus Ave. Cummings donated the statue to the city in 1905. The model for the piece also posed for St. John the Baptist by Auguste Rodin.
Alexander Stirling Calder, father of renowned Alexander Milne Calder and sculptor-in-chief for the Panama-Pacific Exposition of 1915, made ninety "Star Maiden" statues to gaze out from the "Court of the Universe." The maidens were not built to last, but the mold was, and a single replica was commissioned by Citicorp in 1983. Called "The Star Girl," the bronze copy stands in the atrium of the banking center at the corner of Sansome and Market streets. Audrey Munson posed for Star Maiden in Calder's New York studio, 1913-15 and served as the model for so many works of art for the Panama-Pacific Exposition of 1915 that she became known as the Exposition Girl. She also was the model for several U.S. coins, including the Mercury dime and the Liberty half-dollar.
Everyone knows the tall column in the centre of San Francisco's Union Square, though the story behind it often gets lost. It honors Spanish-American War hero Admiral George Dewey. Robert Ingersoll Aitken's sculpture of art student and artist's model "Big Alma" caps the column - Alma Charlotte Corday le Normand de Bretteville was six feet tall. The statue holds a trident that represents Dewey and a wreath that represents President McKinley. Sugar baron Adolph Spreckels was on the committee to select the sculpture and in turn met Alma de Bretteville, who despite being 24 years his younger, soon became Alma de Bretteville Spreckles and a major socialite on San Francisco's circuit. She built the Palace
of the Legion of Honor for her extensive art collection; all with her sugar-daddy's cash. She lived a long life dedicated to charity in San Francisco. Her last major project was the construction of the San Francisco Maritime Museum.
After the 1968 shootings of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr, San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto led a voluntary gun turn-in program that accumulated a symbolic 1,968 weapons. Beniamino Bufano was asked to sculpt something with the melted gun metal. St. "Francis of the Guns," a nearly 9-ft tall figure of a robed Catholic saint, has his arms spread in peaceful greeting. Bufano had it forged in Italy, adding bronze to the gunmetal to keep it from corroding in the city's foggy weather. A mosaic inlay depicts John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Abraham Lincoln, all victims of assassination by handguns, above a multi-racial children's chorus. The sculpture was dedicated by Mayor George Moscone who, along with Harvey Milk, was assassinated by a
handgun eighteen months later. The statue stands in front of the entrance to the science building of the City College of San Francisco.