Thursday, March 11

Augustus Saint-Gaudens and the Cornish Colony

"Summer" by Thomas Dewing (1890)

As loyal fans know, PBS is not all nature programs and the latest Ken Burns film. Last night's first treat was rock star Sting and lutenist Edin Karamazov performing 400-yr-old songs by Elizabethan composer John Dowland, from the album "Sting - Songs from the Labyrinth".

But my ears really perked up at the next program, about Irish-born American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907) and the artist colony he founded in Cornish, New Hampshire, after wife Augusta (nee Homer) tired of the social whirl and attention that always surrounded "Gus" in New York City.

A friend offered to rent them a run-down former inn in Cornish, but Augusta's peace and quiet in the country was short-lived when many in the NYC art community followed her talented husband to Cornish and nearby towns.

The Cornish Colony, btw, pre-dates (by about fifteen years) the Old Lyme Art Colony featured here last year that grew out of Miss Florence Griswold's boarding house in Lyme, Connecticut.

But I digress...

If, like me, you'd never heard of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, chances are you've at least seen some of his incredible work.

(left)Saint-Gaudens with the completed clay model of "Standing Lincoln" before it was cast in bronze and installed in Chicago's Lincoln Park.

(I don't recall seeing its twin in the park across from Parliament in London, but then I wasn't looking for statues of Honest Abe in London.)

Robert Gould Shaw Memorial in Boston Common,
showing Shaw leading the Afro-American
54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.

Originally the memorial was to be completed in two years,
but it took perfectionist Saint-Gaubens almost fourteen.
(This photo doesn't do justice to the detail in it.)

Statues and memorials by Saint-Gaudens dot the New York City landscape, but because of his long association with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, many of his works can be found there too.

Perhaps the most famous is his only nude, the bronze "Diana", which originally was a weather vane atop Madison Square Garden until prudish Victorian-era New Yorkers complained and it was moved to MMoA.

The Saint-Gaudens piece most Americans will recognize, however, even if only from a replica, is the rare 1933 Double Eagle $20 gold coin. Considered the master of bas relief sculpture, he designed it for the U.S. Mint circa 1905-07.

Further information:

Have a great day!

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Nora Johnson said...

I must confess I hadn't heard of Saint-Gaudens but admire his work!

Love PBS too!

Thanks for all the lovely comments over at my place!Hope you're feeling very much better now!

x LOLA:)

ASeaRogue said...

Well now I have learned something. Great reading. You have always been tops, maybe not on top of The Radio City Music Hall however :-)

JamaGenie said...

ASR, I stand corrected. Diana was originally a weather vane on top of **Madison Square Garden**, not RCMH (she says, turning red with embarrassment). Now I'll go finish that crow. (:

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

What a wonderful blog! Thanks so very much for your visit and sweet comment, and for leading me here! I know I shall return often, and you are welcome at our place anytime!

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Fascinating. My eyes are open, my heart willing. Tell me more!