'The Allegory of California' – San Francisco, California - Atlas Obscura

'The Allegory of California'

The first fresco Diego Rivera painted in the United States can be found in the former San Francisco Stock Exchange. 

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The Mexican artist Diego Rivera created his first U.S. fresco in the San Francisco Stock Exchange. Rivera painted the piece between in 1931, and though the building is now the City Club of San Francisco instead of the Stock Exchange, the mural still welcomes visitors to the grand stairwell.

Representations of California’s history and culture fill the mural, which is aptly titled “The Allegory of California.” The central figure represents Calafia, a character from a 16th-century Spanish novel who has come to be known as the Spirit of California. Her right hand holds Earth’s underground treasures while her left hand holds fruits and vegetables that grow on the surface. The professional tennis player and Olympic gold medalist Helen Wills Moody posed as a model for Calafia—Rivera said that Moody “seemed to represent California better than anyone I knew.” Other elements in the mural represent the Gold Rush, horticulture, agriculture, and the oil and shipping industries.

Know Before You Go

The City Club of San Francisco is open Monday to Friday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors can schedule a guided tour.

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