The Eyes

The Eyes

Friday, January 23, 2015

Augustus Saint-Gaudens and the Shaw Memorial

Sculptor of over 200 works in marble and bronze, Augustus Saint-Gaudens had an international reputation and clientele for his portrait reliefs, decorative projects, and public monuments. His long career in New York, Paris, and Rome began as an apprentice to a cameo maker and ended with a request from the president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, to design gold coins for the nation. Saint-Gaudens' formal study at Cooper Union, National Academy of Design, and Ă‰cole des Beaux-Arts, prepared him for a rich, yet tortured life as a sculptor. Inspired by the golden age of Renaissance bronze statuary, he was committed to the overall relationships of architecture, design, and sculpture advocated by the Aesthetic Movement, and blessed by a personal genius for painstakingly researched, yet astoundingly fluid imagery.

Commissioned in the early 1880s, Saint-Gaudens labored over the Shaw Memorial for 14 years. Dedicated as a monument in 1897, the Shaw Memorial has been acclaimed as the greatest American sculpture of the nineteenth century. The relief masterfully depicts Colonel Shaw and the first African American infantry unit from the North to fight for the Union during the Civil War. The sculpture combines the real and allegorical. The memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts Fifty-Fourth Regiment is on a ten-year renewable loan to the National Gallery of Art from the National Park Service, Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, Cornish, New Hampshire.

Shaw Memorial | 1900
Patinated Plaster
Overall (without armature or pedestal) | 145 1/4 in. x 206 1/2 in. x 34 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington

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