Julia Morgan, Bernard Maybeck and the École des Beaux Arts

Victoria Kastner, Hearst Castle

Tuesday, February 9, 2010Mini-exhibit: 7:15pmLecture: 8:00pm
de Young Museum
Casa Grande's North Tower by Julia Morgan

The cast-stone ornaments and polychrome tiles of Casa Grande’s tower were de­sign­ed by Julia Morgan in San Francisco and produced by Bay Area craftsmen.

Hearst Castle wrought-iron grille by Julia Morgan

This wrought-iron window grille at Hearst Castle was designed in the early 1920s and includes three of the Nine Muses of ancient mythology.

Cherubs on Casa Grand by Julia Morgan

This detail shows cherubs and a portion of the teak gable of Casa Grande, both modeled on specific buildings created in 16th century Spain.

The legacies of Julia Morgan and Bernard Maybeck are evident in many California buildings—-most notably the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, the buildings on and near the University of California campus in Berkeley and William Randolph Hearst’s San Simeon estate, formally known as La Cuesta Encantada and nicknamed Hearst Castle. San Franciscans regularly drive past Bernard Maybeck’s auto dealership on Van Ness Avenue. What connects Maybeck and Morgan is the École des Beaux Arts in Paris, where these architects pursued their education. Victoria Kastner will examine the educational philosophy of the École des Beaux Arts, the challenges of Morgan’s Parisian studies at the École and the ways their early scholarship altered the architectural landscape of California.

Bernard Maybeck was among the first Americans to study architecture at the École des Beaux Arts, where he honed his drawing skills and his love of medieval and Renaissance design imagery. He was in his early thirties in 1894 when he left the east coast architectural firm of Carrère & Hastings to take a position teaching descriptive geometry in the engineering department at the Berkeley campus. There he met Julia Morgan, who was then a senior in the civil engineering department—-a very unusual place for a female student.

Maybeck quickly employed Morgan as his classroom assistant, and recognizing her talent, urged her to study architecture at his alma mater, the École des Beaux Arts in Paris. The École had just begun to admit women to its sculpture and painting divisions. Architecture was such a male-dominated field that no one had considered the possibility of a female applicant. Maybeck (École des Beaux Arts 1882-1886) continued to mentor Morgan (École des Beaux Arts 1898-1902), the prestigious school’s first female graduate, and collaborate on projects.

Maybeck visited San Simeon during the years that Morgan simultaneously worked for William Randolph Hearst at San Simeon and Wyntoon, near Mount Shasta. Wyntoon, ironically, was first built for Mr. Hearst’s mother, Phoebe Apperson Hearst, by Maybeck in 1902-1903. After Wyntoon burned during the winter of 1929-1930, William Randolph Hearst asked Julia Morgan to build a Bavarian-style complex while continuing to work on the Spanish-style Hearst Castle. Maybeck also prepared the development plan for the University of California—-for which Phoebe Apperson Hearst was a regent—-and both architects provided architectural services for the campus.

Maybeck and Morgan, mentor and student, shared painstaking designs and stylistic virtuosity ranging from Beaux Arts classicism to Gothic, Arts & Crafts, Mission and Japanese aesthetics. Maybeck, in particular, experimented with incorporating industrial building materials, reinforced concrete and industrial casement windows into domestic structures. Morgan followed her teacher’s lead by, for instance, innovative uses of tiling for homes.

Victoria Kastner, a Bay Area native, has been the historian at Hearst Castle for 30 years. She has two master’s degrees, history with a specialty in architectural history from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the second in museum management from George Washington University. Ms Kastner wrote Hearst Castle: The Biography of a Country House and Hearst’s San Simeon: The Gardens and the Land. She has also written about William Randolph Hearst, San Simeon and Julia Morgan for the “London Telegraph,” the American Institute of Architects and The Magazine Antiques. Ms Kastner has lectured extensively, including such venues as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and our own de Young Museum, speaking to the American Decorative Arts Forum, in May, 2004 on “Grand Exuberance: Building and Furnishing Hearst Castle.” Her vivid presentation received a standing ovation. She also hosted the Forum in 2005 with a private tour of Hearst Castle.

7:15pm mini-exhibit

Bring architecture to the mini-exhibit in the form of architectural renderings, paintings, prints or transfer prints on ceramics, or the background to a scene. Share your architectural images and models. Bring a dollhouse or cast-iron bank in the form of a building.


Koret Auditorium, de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. Enter from Level B1 of the parking garage; pedestrians enter from the concourse side of Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive and down the steps across the street from the museum’s main entrance.