Master Sculptor

Augustus Saint-Gaudens: Master Sculptor

His coins are still considered the most beautiful coins ever produced in America.

An excerpt from Augustus Saint-Gaudens: Master Sculptor:

At the beginning of the twentieth century, no American sculptor was more celebrated than Augustus Saint-Gaudens. When he died, in 1907, his passing was recorded in the foreign press, and his career was the subject of lengthy commentary in domestic newspapers. The Boston Globe, which featured his obituary on its front page, hailed him as the artist who had “raised the standard of sculpture in America to a height little dreamed of 30 years ago [and whose] influence during this period has been felt in nearly every part of the domain of art in the United States.” Yet within a few years of his death his reputation had faded, the victim of the totally different form that so-called modern art was taking during the teens and later decades of the century. Saint-Gaudens’s talent nevertheless remained unquestioned: a reporter for Time, in reviewing an exhibition of his sculpture held in 1948 at The Century Association in New York on the hundredth anniversary of the sclupture’s birth, commented that the show “highlighted the delicacy of his bas-reliefs and reached a rare pitch of portraiture in the stubble-bearded head of General Sherman.” The reporter went on to speak of such major Saint-Gaudens works as Chicago’s “Standing Lincoln,” Washington’s Adams Memorial, Boston’s Shaw Memorial, and New York’s Sherman Monument as “art which exerts a grip on millions of imaginations.” In 1969, the National Portrait Gallery devoted a show to Saint-Gaudens’s portrait reliefs, which Time reported variously as “sensitively modeled” and reflecting “the understanding of a psychologist.”

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