[sAnt gaw' dnz] best known for his
monumental depictions of Civil War heroes, and
for one of the rarest and most valuable of all
Augustus Saint- Gaudens was
born in Dublin, Ireland, on March 1, 1848, the
son of a shoemaker; his family immigrated to New York City
while he was still an infant. He developed a love
for art at an early age, and left school at the
age of 13 to apprentice with a cameo cutter.
During his apprenticeship he also studied drawing
at Cooper Union and the National Academy of
Design. In 1867, he went to Paris, where he
studied at the École des Beaux-Arts. In 1870, he
moved to Rome, where he established a studio.
While in Rome he began his first full-length
sculpture, Hiawatha (1871), based on the
character made famous by James Fenimore Cooper.
Returning to the United States
in 1872, Saint-Gaudens built his reputation by
completing portrait commissions for prominent New
Yorkers. He also began working closely with
architects, often creating works specifically for
their sites. In 1877, Saint-Gaudens received his
first major commission, a monument to Admiral David Farragut.
Completed in 1881, and situated in an
architectural setting designed by Stanford White,
The Farragut Monument still stands in
Madison Square Park, New York City.
Over the subsequent years, Saint-Gaudens
built a tremendous reputation based on his
monumental depictions of several Civil War
heroes, including General William Tecumseh
Sherman (1892-1903), Central Park, New York
City, and General John A. Logan (1894),
Chicago. To this period also belong two very
impressive monuments to President Abraham Lincoln
in Chicago -- Standing Lincoln, in
Lincoln Park (1884-1887), and Sitting Lincoln
(1909), in Grant Park. One of his most impressive
works is the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial
(1884-1897). Located on Boston Common, the
memorial features a procession of
African-American foot soldiers of the 45th
Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry with their
commander, Colonel Shaw, on his horse with an
angel of glory hovering above.
By 1900, Saint-Gaudens was
suffering from cancer and had moved to Cornish,
New Hampshire, site of what was originally his
summer home. Before long he had attracted a small
community of artists (popularly known as the
Cornish Colony) that included painters Maxfield
Parish, Thomas Dewing, George Deforest Brush and
Kenyon Cox; architect and garden designer Charles
Platt; sculptors Paul Manship and Louis
Saint-Gaudens (his brother); and many others.
In addition to portraits and
monumental sculptures, Saint-Gaudens is also
remembered for two coins he designed. In 1905, President
Theodore Roosevelt commissioned him to
redesign the ten- and twenty-dollar gold pieces.
Today, the twenty-dollar gold piece he designed
is one of the rarest, and most valuable, of all
U.S. coins; the ten-dollar coin is also valuable,
but not as rare.
Augustus Saint-Gaudens died of cancer on
August 3, 1907. His Cornish home is now a
National Historic Site.
American Masters www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/database/saint-gaudens_a.html
The Metropolitan Museum of Art www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/astg/hd_astg.htm
Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site
New York City
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