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 Augustus Saint-Gaudens

Augustus Saint-Gaudens

Birth
Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland
Death 3 Aug 1907 (aged 59)
Cornish City, Sullivan County, New Hampshire, USA
Burial Cornish City, Sullivan County, New Hampshire, USA
Memorial ID 923 · View Source
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American sculptor, best known for his design of the U.S. standing liberty twenty dollar gold piece first issued in 1907, which is widely regarded as the most beautiful coin ever minted. Sculptor of over 200 works in marble and bronze, Saint-Gaudens had an international reputation and clientele for his portrait reliefs, decorative projects, and public monuments. Augustus Saint-Gaudens was born March 1, 1848 in Dublin, Ireland, to Bernard Saint-Gaudens, a French shoemaker and Mary McGuinness, his Irish wife. Six months later, the family immigrated to New York City where Augustus grew up. Upon completion of school at age thirteen, he expressed strong interest in art as a career, so his father apprenticed him to a French cameo cutter. While working days at his cameo lathe, Augustus also took night art classes at the Cooper Union and the National Academy of Design. At 19, his apprenticeship completed, he traveled to Paris where he studied under Francois Jouffry at the renowned École des Beaux-Arts. In 1870, he left Paris for Rome, where for the next five years; he studied classical art and architecture, and worked on his first commissions. In Rome, Saint-Gaudens also met his future wife, Augusta Homer, a distant cousin of the American painter Winslow Homer. Saint-Gaudens carved her a cameo ring for their engagement six months later. In 1876 he received his first major commission; a monument to Civil War Admiral David Glasgow Farragut. Unveiled in New York's Madison Square in 1881, the monument was a tremendous success; its combination of realism and allegory, a departure from previous American sculpture. Saint-Gaudens' fame grew, and other commissions were quickly forthcoming. Saint-Gaudens' increased prominence allowed him to pursue his strong interest in teaching, something he did steadily from 1888 to 1897. He tutored young artists privately, taught at the Art Students League, and took on a large number of assistants. He was an artistic advisor to the Columbian Exposition of 1893, an avid supporter of the American Academy in Rome, and part of the MacMillan Commission, which made recommendations for the architectural and artistic preservation and improvement of the Nation's Capital. He produced enduring and distinctive public sculpture such as the Adams Memorial, the Peter Cooper Monument, and the John A. Logan Monument. Perhaps his greatest achievement during this period was the Shaw Memorial unveiled on Boston Common in 1897. Described as Saint-Gaudens' "symphony in bronze," this masterpiece took fourteen years to complete. Diagnosed with intestinal cancer in 1900, he decided to live in Cornish year round. For the next seven years, despite diminishing energy, he continued to work, producing a steady stream of reliefs and public sculpture. In 1905 President Theodore Roosevelt asked Saint-Gaudens to design new ten and twenty-dollar gold coins for the nation. The original designs were extremely high relief, which caused production problems in striking and stacking the coins, but a compromise was reached in time for the first "business" strikes shortly before the sculptor died of cancer on August 3, 1907. His wife survived him for nineteen years, and continued to summer at Aspet. In 1919, she and their son, Homer, established the Saint-Gaudens Memorial, an organization dedicated to preserve the place as an historic site. In 1965, the Memorial donated the property to the National Park Service.

Bio by: Edward Parsons


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 923
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1 Mar 1848–3 Aug 1907), Find A Grave Memorial no. 923, citing Saint-Gaudens Memorial, Cornish City, Sullivan County, New Hampshire, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .