Full of outstanding qualities, this view of San Francisco Bay and the neighborhood surrounding the Palace of Fine Art is one for any collection. Cooper blends a masterful composition of architectural fact and impressionist instinct to define this cityscape. The buildings balance with the natural foliage, while the densely occupied land is bounded by the open expanse of San Francisco bay and the hills of the Marin peninsula.
It is likely that this work was painted during cooper’s first visit to California, while attending the panama-pacific exposition of 1915. The people in the foreground, memorializing their early 20th century fashions, are out for a walk on a day bright with sunlight and color. Cooper was so impressed with the light qualities he discovered in California that he soon chose to move here permanently. He worked plein air, in the manner of his late 19th century French educators, before such an expression was commonly associated with California landscape artists.
A large steam ship cruises the bay, near where the Golden Gate Bridge spans today. Early piers and the edge of the presidio are visible at the left horizon. Although the city has flourished substanially since, some of the serenity shown in this work by cooper remains in the city of San Francisco.
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