Design Destination: Bufano Beauties Fill a Niche at Mondavi Winery

Bufano's sculptures can be found at several locations throughout the winery. Photo by Dave Weinstein

For fans of sleek modern design, one of the true treasures in Napa Valley can be found at Robert Mondavi Winery. The winery displays one of the best collections of sculpture by the great Beniamino Bufano to be found anywhere.

Benny Bufano (circa 1898-1970) created some of the Bay Area’s best known and favorite works – smooth as silk polar bears and penguins carved from granite then carefully polished; impressive statues of St. Francis, coated with mosaic tiles; an immense image of Peace, that can be found overlooking the ocean at Timber Cove Inn in northern Sonoma.

Bufano’s work can be admired in dozens of public and semi-public spots throughout the Bay Area, including Fort Mason Green and St. Mary’s Square in San Francisco, Hillsdale Mall in San Mateo and the College of Notre Dame de Nemours in Belmont.

His beautiful Bear sculpture is a landmark on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in front of the Ross Town Hall in Marin County.

Bufano created a veritable sleuth of beautiful bears, which can be found in many public spots. Photo by Dave Weinstein

The Mondavi Winery, which was designed by Cliff May to suggest a mission, is an ideal venue for Bufano’s spiritually tinged sculptures. Front and center is a over-scaled St. Francis. A stone elephant occupied the lawn. A mini-gallery of table-top Bufano sculptures can be found in one of the passageways.

And do not miss the polar bear.

Do you have a favorite design destination? Let us know.

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