Augustus Saint-Gaudens (Dublin, March 1, 1848 – Cornish, New Hampshire, August 3, 1907), was the Irish-born American sculptor of the Beaux-Arts generation who most embodied the ideals of the "American Renaissance." Raised in New York City, he traveled to Europe for further training and artistic study, and then returned to major critical success in the design of monuments commemorating heroes of the American Civil War, many of which still stand. In addition to his famous works such as the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial on Boston Common and the outstanding grand equestrian monuments to Civil War generals John A. Logan, atop a tumulus in Chicago, 1894-97, and William Tecumseh Sherman, at the corner of New York's Central Park, 1892-1903, Saint-Gaudens also maintained an interest in numismatics and designed the twenty-dollar "double eagle" gold piece, for the US Mint in 1905-7, still considered the most beautiful American coin ever issued as well as the $10 "Indian Head" gold eagle, both of which were minted from 1907 until 1933. In his later years he founded the "Cornish Colony," an artistic colony that included notable painters, sculptors, writers, and architects. His brother, Louis St. Gaudens was also a well known sculptor with whom he occasionally collaborated.
In 1876 he received his first major commission; a monument to Civil War Admiral David Farragut, in New York's Madison Square; his friend Stanford White designed an architectural setting for it, and when it was unveiled in 1881, its naturalism, its lack of bombast and its siting combined to make it a tremendous success, and Saint-Gaudens' reputation was established. The commissions followed fast: the colossal Standing Lincoln in Lincoln Park, Chicago in a setting by architect White, 1884 - 87, considered the finest portrait statue in the United States; a long series of funerary monuments and busts: the Adams Memorial, the Peter Cooper Monument, and the John A. Logan Monument, the greatest of which is the bronze bas-relief that forms the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial on Boston Common, 1884 - 1897, Saint-Gaudens labored on it for fourteen years, and even after the public version had been unveiled, he continued with further versions. Two grand equestrian monuments to Civil War generals are outstanding: to General John A. Logan, atop a tumulus in Chicago, 1894-97, and to General William Tecumseh Sherman at the corner of Central Park in New York, 1892-1903, the first use of Robert Treat Paine’s pointing device for the accurate mechanical enlargement of sculpture models.
For the Lincoln Centennial in 1909 Saint-Gaudens produce another statue of the president. A seated figure, it is in Chicago's Grant Park. (A copy was placed by Lincoln's tomb in Springfield.) The head was used for the commemorative postage stamp issued on the 100th anniversary of Lincoln's birth.
Saint-Gaudens also created the Charles Stewart Parnell monument on Dublin's O'Connell Street. In 1887, when Robert Louis Stevenson made his second trip to the United States, Saint-Gaudens had the opportunity to make the preliminary sketches for a five-year project of a medallion depicting Stevenson, in very poor health at the time, propped in bed writing. With minor modifications, this medallion was reproduced for the Stevenson memorial in St. Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh. Stevenson's cousin and biographer, Graham Balfour, deemed the work "the most satisfactory of all the portraits of Stevenson." Balfour also noted that Saint-Gaudens greatly admired Stevenson and had once said he would "gladly go a thousand miles for the sake of a sitting" with him. A statue of philanthropist Robert Randall stands in the gardens of Sailors' Snug Harbor in New York. A statue of Copper King, Marcus Daly, is at the entrance of The Montana School of Mines on the west end of Park St. in Butte Montana.
His prominence brought him students, and he was an able and sensitive teacher. He tutored young artists privately, taught at the Art Students League of New York, and took on a large number of assistants. He was an artistic advisor to the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, an avid supporter of the American Academy in Rome, and part of the McMillan Commission, which brought into being L'Enfant's long-ignored master-plan for the nation's capital.
Through his career Augustus Saint-Gaudens' made a specialty of intimate private portrait panels in sensitive, very low relief, which owed something to the Florentine Renaissance.
Chosen by Theodore Roosevelt to redesign the coinage of the nation at the beginning of the 20th century, Saint-Gaudens produced a beautiful high-relief $20 gold piece that was adapted into a flattened-down version by the United States Mint. The high-relief coin took up to eleven strikes to bring up the details, and only 12,367 of these coins were minted in 1907.
Two major versions of his coins are known as the "Saint Gaudens High Relief Roman Numerals 1907" and the "Saint Gaudens Arabic Numerals 1907-1933." Other extremely rare types of Saint-Gaudens double eagles, minted in 1907, are prized by collectors and valued from $10,000 to millions of dollars.
The Saint-Gaudens obverse design was reused in the American Eagle gold bullion coins that were instituted in 1986. An "ultra-high relief" $20 (pure) gold coin will be issued by the U.S. Mint in 2009.
Diagnosed with cancer in 1900, he decided to live at his Federal house with barn-studio set in the handsome gardens he had made, where he and his family had been spending summers since 1885, in Cornish, New Hampshire— though not in retirement; despite diminishing energy, he continued to work, producing a steady stream of reliefs and public sculpture. In 1904, he was one of the first seven chosen for membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters. That same year the large studio burned, with the irreplaceable loss of the sculptor's correspondence, his sketch books, and many works in progress.
At Cornish, New Hampshire, Saint-Gaudens and his brother Louis attracted a summer colony of artists. The most famous included painters Maxfield Parrish, and Kenyon Cox, architect and garden designer Charles Platt, and sculptor Paul Manship. The colony of artists made for a dynamic social and creative environment, at the center of which stood Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Many other well known artists followed Saint-Gaudens to Cornish, forming what became known as the "Cornish Colony." Included were painters Maxfield Parrish, Thomas Dewing, George Deforest Brush and Kenyon Cox, dramatist Percy MacKaye, the American novelist Winston Churchill, architect, Charles A. Platt, and sculptors Paul Manship and Louis Saint-Gaudens, Augustus' brother. After his death in 1907 it slowly disspiated. His house and gardens is now preserved as Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site.
His life-size sculpture representing the Boston Massacre was unfinished at his death, but is undergoing restoration at the National Historic Site.
Among the public collections holding works by Augustus Saint-Gaudens are the following:
The Addison Gallery of American Art (Andover, Massachusetts), the Amon Carter Museum (Texas), the Art Gallery of the University of Rochester (New York), Brigham Young University Museum of Art (Utah), the Brooklyn Museum of Art (New York City), the Carnegie Museum of Art (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Courtauld Institute of Art (London), the Currier Museum of Art (New Hampshire), the Delaware Art Museum, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Honolulu Academy of Arts, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Mead Art Museum (Amherst College, Massachusetts), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of the Rhode Island School of Design, the Montclair Art Museum (New Jersey), Musée d'Orsay (Paris), the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the National Academy of Design (New York City), the National Gallery of Art (Washington D.C.), the National Portrait Gallery (London), the North Carolina Museum of Art, the National Historic Site (New Hampshire), the Newark Museum (New Jersey), the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery (Lincoln, Nebraska), the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington D.C.), the Tate Gallery (London), the Toledo Museum of Art (Ohio) and the United States Senate Art Collection.
Saint-Gaudens appeared on a 1940 U.S. postage stamp in the Famous Americans series.
2. Balfour (1913), p. 171.
Striking Change.(Striking Change: The Great Artistic Collaboration of Theodore Roosevelt and Augustus Saint-Gaudens)(Brief article)(Book review)
Mar 01, 2008; Striking Change Michael F. Moran Whitman Publishing 3101 Clairmont Road Suite C, Atlanta, GA 30329 0794823564, $24.95...