A Sculptor’s house- Augustus Saint Gaudens National Historic Site
Edited & Published by Dina Reis, CEO & editor-in-chief of ReisMag.com
The brilliant work of sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848 – 1907), who created such iconic Manhattan pieces such as Commodore Farragut, Peter Cooper and others, is celebrated at a National Historic Site that bears his name located in Cornish, New Hampshire, also the one-time center of the Cornish Art Colony.
Saint-Gaudens (1848 – 1907) was an American sculptor of the Beaux-Arts generation. He, like many artists of the time who could afford it, he traveled to Europe to study art. He soon returned to New York, where he achieved major critical success for his monuments commemorating heroes of the American Civil War, many of which still stand. In addition to his works such as the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial on Boston Common, and monuments to Civil War Generals, John A. Logan in Chicago’s Grant Park, and William Tecumseh Sherman, at the corner of New York’s Central Park, Saint-Gaudens also created such [Classical] works such as the Diana. Small models of those pieces are all at the site.
He also employed his skills in numismatics better known as coins. Most notably, he designed the $20 “double eagle” gold piece (1905–1907) for the US Mint, considered one of the most beautiful American coins ever issued as well as the $10 “Indian Head” gold eagle, both of which were minted from 1907 until 1933. In his later years, he founded the “Cornish Colony“, an artistic colony that included notable painters, sculptors, writers, and architects. His brother Louis Saint-Gaudens with whom he occasionally collaborated, was also a well-known sculptor.
Diagnosed with cancer in 1900, Saint-Gaudens decided to live at his Federal house with barn-studio set in the handsome gardens he had made, where he and his family had been spending summers since 1885, in Cornish, New Hampshire. Despite his health, he kept working and in 1904, he was one of the first seven chosen for membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Saint-Gaudens and his brother Louis – also a sculptor — created a dynamic social and creative environment in the Cornish Art Colony. The participants are a who’s who of the artist of that time — painters Maxfield Parrish and Kenyon Cox, architect and garden designer Charles A. Platt, and sculptor Paul Manship as well as painters Thomas Dewing, George de Forest Brush, dramatist Percy MacKaye and the American novelist Winston Churchill.
Saint-Gaudens and his wife figure prominently in the 2011 book The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris by historian David McCullough. The author credited the letters of Augusta Saint-Gaudens to her friends and family in the United States were among the richest primary sources he discovered in years of research into the lives of the American community in Paris in the late 19th century.
139 Saint Gaudens Road
Cornish, New Hampshire, 03745