1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Saint-Gaudens, Augustus
SAINT-GAUDENS, AUGUSTUS (1848–1907), American sculptor, was born in Dublin, Ireland, of a French father (a shoemaker by trade), and an Irish mother, Mary McGuinness, on the first of March 1848, and was taken to America in infancy. He was apprenticed to a cameo-cutter, studying in the schools of the Cooper Union (1861) and the National Academy of Design, New York (1865–1866). His earliest work in sculpture was a bronze bust (1867) of his father, Bernard P. E. Saint-Gaudens. In 1868 he went to Paris and became a pupil of Jouffroy in the École des Beaux-Arts. Two years later, with his fellow-student Mercié, he went to Italy, where he spent three years. At Rome he executed his statues “Hiawatha” and “Silence.” He then settled in New York. In 1874 he made a bust of the statesman, William M. Evarts, and was commissioned to execute a large relief for St Thomas’s Church, New York, which brought him into prominence. His statue of Admiral Farragut, Madison Square, New York, was commissioned in 1878, exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1880 and completed in 1881. It immediately brought the sculptor widespread fame, which was increased by his statue of Lincoln (unveiled 1887), for Lincoln Park, Chicago. In Springfield, Mass., is his “Deacon Chapin,” known as “The Puritan.” His figure of “Grief” (also known as “Death” and “The Peace of God”) for the Adams (Mrs Henry Adams) Memorial, in Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, D.C., has been described as “an idealization complete and absolute, the rendering of a simple, natural fact—a woman in grief—yet with such deep and embracing comprehension that the individual is magnified into a type.” His Shaw Memorial in Boston, a monument to Robert G. Shaw, colonel of a negro regiment in the Civil War, was undertaken in 1884 and completed in 1897; it is a relief in bronze, 11 ft. by 15, containing many figures of soldiers, led by their young officer on horseback, a female figure in the clouds pointing onward. In 1903 was unveiled his equestrian statue (begun in 1892) to General Sherman, at 59th street and Fifth avenue, New York; preceding the Union commander is a winged figure of “Victory.” This work, with others, formed a group at the Paris Exposition of 1900. A bronze copy of his “Amor Caritas” is in the Luxembourg, Paris. Among his other works are relief medallion portraits of Robert Louis Stevenson (in St Giles’s Cathedral, Edinburgh) and the French painter Jules Bastien-Lepage; Garfield Memorial, Fairmount Park, Philadelphia; General Logan, Chicago; the Peter Cooper Memorial; and Charles Stewart Parnell in Dublin. Saint-Gaudens was made an officer of the Legion of Honour and corresponding member of the Institute of France. He died at Cornish, N.H., on the 3rd of August 1907. His monument of Phillips Brooks for Boston was left practically completed. Saint-Gaudens is rightly regarded as the greatest sculptor produced by America, and his work had a most powerful influence on art in the United States. In 1877 he married Augusta F. Homer and left a son, Homer Saint-Gaudens. His brother Louis (b. 1854), also a sculptor, assisted Augustus Saint-Gaudens in some of his works.
See Royal Cortissoz, Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1907); Lorado Taft, History of American Sculpture (1903), containing two chapters devoted to Saint-Gaudens; Kenyon Cox, Old Masters and New (1905); C. Lewis Hind, Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1908).