Representing the complexity and grandeur of the major historical figures of America, the evocative memorial statues sculpted by Irish-born American Realist Sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, are remarkable for their technical grace and subtle beauty.
An artist of exceptional talent, Saint-Gaudens was born on March 1, 1848, in Dublin, Ireland, to a French father and an Irish mother. When he was an infant his family moved to New York City and at the age of 13 he was apprenticed to a cameo cutter. From 1861-65, he took evening classes at Cooper Union and in 1865 he enrolled at the National Academy of Design, New York.
In 1867, Saint-Gaudens travelled to Paris and was admitted to the École des Beaux-Arts. Late in 1870s he set out for Rome, where he worked for two years copying famous antique statues on commission. After 1875 he settled in New York and collaborated with Henry Hobson Richardson, Stanford White, Charles Follen McKim and the painter John La Farge. In 1880, Saint-Gauden’s created the most important work of his early career, the monument of Admiral David Farragut, the base of which was designed by Stanford White.
By the late 1880s, Saint-Gaudens had produced some of his greatest work including a copper statue of ‘Diana’ and the first of his bronze monuments to President Abraham Lincoln. Throughout the 1890s, he continued to work while engaging in the greater art world through teaching and advocacy. Saint-Gaudens also taught at the Arts Students League of New York, and worked in support of the American Academy in Rome.
In 1905, Saint-Gaudens earned a commission from President Theodore Roosevelt to redesign the ten and twenty dollar pieces which is arguably the most inspirational example in the history of American numismatics.
By 1900, Saint-Gaudens moved to his summer home in Cornish, New Hampshire. Joined by other artists that included notable painters, sculptors, writers and architects, he created a community there that supported and inspired him throughout his final years.
The foremost American sculptor of the late 19th century was died on August 3, 1907.