Most artists leave behind only their works, and retrospective studies of their lives and careers often must be seen through the eyes of their biographers alone. This leaves a void between the artist's life as lived and how that life is perceived by others.
Researchers in art, architectural history, and landscape design now have a unique opportunity to view the entire landscape of Augustus Saint-Gaudens' life. The largest gathering of Saint-Gaudens' resources, this collection reproduces almost all of the sculptor's extant papers. It includes:
These papers provide art historians with a nearly complete history of how Saint-Gaudens developed his concepts, how they were executed, who commissioned them, and how art critics received them. In the personal papers can be found insights into how the artist perceived life, the world, and himself, and comparisons can be made with his works of art as interpretations of these philosophies. Researchers can also trace the commercial aspects of Saint-Gaudens' work, from the legal details of the more than 150 commissions recorded in the collection, to his negotiations for basic fees, to the costs of casting a bronze piece and operating a studio.
Saint-Gaudens is noted for many distinguished pieces, among them, Admiral Farragut (1881) in New York's Madison Square, Diana (1892) in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the seated Lincoln (1907) in Chicago's Grant Park. These pieces reflect the combined influences of his European training and American citizenship. An important group of materials in this collection relates to the history of his home in Cornish, New Hampshire. Saint-Gaudens spent his last years in this estate which now houses the Saint-Gaudens Memorial Gallery.
Donated to Dartmouth College by the Saint-Gaudens Memorial in 1964, these papers shed light on more than just the life and work of this illustrious artisan. They also illuminate the broader field of late 19th-century American sculpture and reflect the trends in neoclassical art and public statuary.