October 17, 2015 – January 10, 2016
Atlantic and Pacific was commissioned for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE), the world’s fair of 1915 held in San Francisco. This mural is one of 35 commissioned for the PPIE, and was originally installed in the archway beneath the Tower of Jewels, the fair’s architectural centerpiece.
The mural, by William de Leftwich Dodge (American, 1867–1935), celebrates the 1914 opening of the Panama Canal. The subject is depicted as an allegory, with processions of Western and Eastern nations converging toward a muscular colossus who represents the labor that produced the canal. That figure reaches up to link an ethereal otherworldly floating couple, signifying the marriage of the seas. Dodge designed the elongated figures to be viewed in perspective from forty feet below, and limited his palette to harmonize with the overall color scheme of the fair.
Before going on view at the de Young in conjunction with the exhibition Jewel City: Art from San Francisco's Panama-Pacific International Exposition, the canvas was rolled and kept in storage for nearly one hundred years. The Museums documented the work of the preparators, and conservators as they installed the massive work of art in Wilsey Court. Check out more photos capturing the mural's installation.