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Image of The Puritan

Augustus Saint-Gaudens , (Mar 1, 1848–Aug 3, 1907)

The Puritan

cast 1899
33 in. x 20 3/8 in. x 12 3/8 in. (83.82 cm x 51.75 cm x 31.43 cm)

Medium and Support: Bronze on Italian marble base
Credit Line: Museum purchase
Accession Number: 1956.9


Augustus Saint-Gaudens, son of French-Irish parents who settled in New York, began his artistic training as an apprentice cameo carver, while supplementing his study in evening classes at Cooper Union and the National Academy of Design. By 1868 he was enrolled at École des Beaux-Arts in Paris where he was introduced to the interdependence of paintings, sculpture, architecture, and design, a concept that was to inform his sculptural practice for the rest of his life. Returning to New York in 1875, he won the commission for a monument to naval hero, David Glasgow Farragut. The resulting monument, of 1877–80, a portrayal of a singular man in bronze standing atop a carved marble base by Stanford White marked the beginning of a productive collaboration between the two artists. This commission introduced Saint-Gaudens, according to one scholar, as “the new face of American sculpture,” in which the artist integrated his cosmopolitan French training with real-life American subject matter. Saint-Gaudens went on to execute a number of extraordinary monuments for which he is rightly renowned, including Standing Abraham Lincoln, Chicago, 1884–87, The Shaw Memorial, Boston, 1884–97, The Adams Memorial, Washington, 1886–91, and The Sherman Monument, New York, 1892–1903.

The Puritan, 1883–87, was commissioned by Springfield, Massachusetts to commemorate one of the original settlers of the city, Deacon Samuel Chapin. Once again Saint-Gaudens collaborated with Stanford White who created the base and the grand, original setting. Recognizing the prospect of additional revenue, Saint-Gaudens designed a smaller version, a slight variation of the original monument, which was exceedingly popular among collectors. The Addison’s sculpture is one of an edition of twenty-five.

In addition to his monumental sculpture, Saint-Gaudens created a significant number of exceptionally lyrical, carved low bas-relief portraits of patrons and friends. Returning to the cameo carving training of his early years, he also modeled numerous medallions and medals, as well as U.S. coinage.

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