Travel back to the 1915 World’s Fair in San Francisco through the eyes of an accomplished Bay Area photographer.
The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco have just opened an exciting new exhibition featuring the photographs of Willard Worden (1868–1946). Worden, who took up photography during his active duty in the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars, achieved widespread recognition and was at the height of his career in 1915, when the World’s Fair was held in San Francisco.

Willard E. Worden, “Colonnade of the Palace of Fine Arts with Edward Berge’s Muse Finding the Head of Orpheus,” ca. 1915, gelatin silver print, Jerry Bianchini Collection

As one of the exposition’s official photographers, Worden captured the beautiful architectural and sculptural achievements of the event in both day and nighttime scenes. Worden’s eye for composition and his mastery of the photographic medium are highlighted in prints such as “Colonnade of the Palace of Fine Arts with Edward Berge’s Muse Finding the Head of Orpheus” and “The Arch of the Rising Sun at Night.” Located at the de Jung, Worden’s photographs are juxtaposed with another exhibition that includes nearly 250 works by major American and European artists from the 1915 fair. Titled “Jewel City: Art from San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition,” the paired exhibition will open October 17.

Willard E. Worden, “Japanese Tea Garden,” ca. 1915, gelatin silver print with applied color,
Jerry Bianchini Collection

“Portals of the Past: The Photographs of Willard Worden” also features Worden’s photographs of San Francisco’s coastline, Golden Gate Park, and Chinatown, surveying the photographer’s work from the first two decades of the 20th century.

Willard E. Worden, “Storm on the Ocean Beach,” 1904, gelatin silver print, RD Moore Collection

“Portals of the Past: The Photographs of Willard Worden” opened on July 25 and will be on view through February 14.
To learn more, visit Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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