Sculptors who design coins rarely do that exclusively - they sculpt a wide array of works, and it can be illuminating to know about that other body of work. So every once in a while we'll report on books, exhibits and other references to the sculptural work of coin designers. Here's a news item about a statuette of a work by Augustus Saint-Gaudens.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has acquired one of only 16 known casts of Augustus Saint-Gaudens' Abraham Lincoln, the Man (Standing Lincoln), a rare, authorized reduction of the large bronze monument that the sculptor originally created for Lincoln Park in Chicago between 1884 and 1887.
The Met's 40-1/2-inch-high bronze statuette was one of a limited number authorized by the artist (1848-1907) under the terms of his estate and cast between 1911 and the early 1920s by Tiffany Studios and Gorham Manufacturing Co. The sculptor himself planned the limited edition castings, and their production was supervised by Saint-Gaudens's mold makers, founders, and studio assistants. After Saint-Gaudens's death, his widow marketed the castings for museum, library, and domestic display. The Met's bronze almost certainly dates to 1911, and based on its early documented provenance, was one of the first two statuettes to be completed.
The magnificently preserved cast was originally in the collection of Clara Stone Hay, the widow of President Abraham Lincoln's onetime assistant private secretary, John M. Hay, who went on to co-author a 10-volume biography of Lincoln for the Century Company in the 1880s, and later served as U. S. Secretary of State under Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. Hay, who called Lincoln "The Tycoon," kept a diary during his years on the staff of the White House (where he also lived from 1861 to 1865), considered by scholars as the most important source of first-hand recollections of the Lincoln Administration. During the "Great Secession Winter" of 1860-1861, and on through the Civil War, Hay also wrote pseudonymous newspaper articles supporting the President-elect, later the President-a common practice of the day.
"The Metropolitan is delighted to acquire its first major portrait of Abraham Lincoln-at the precise moment that we are re-opening our re-designed galleries for American paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts," commented Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of the Museum. "Lincoln is the quintessential American icon, and Saint-Gaudens has long held a special place in our collection. Of course, the portrait has particular significance for the Met, a museum founded in the wake of the American Civil War. It is an ideal addition to our collections."
Thayer Tolles, Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture, said: "The Standing Lincoln statuette joins the Metropolitan's wonderfully broad collection of more than 50 works by Saint-Gaudens. As the sculptured representation of Lincoln par excellence, it is fitting that the Met finally is represented by this singular commission, the one that proclaimed Saint-Gaudens as an artist of international stature."
The sculpture shows Lincoln, full figure, hand on lapel and head bowed in a manner contemporaries described as characteristic, standing in front of a klismos-type chair of state. One of the orators at the unveiling of the original heroic statue in 1887 said that the sculptor's intent was "to present Lincoln, the President, burdened with the responsibilities of the hour, giving audience to a delegation of the people, who presented for his consideration matters of grave public concern."
To read the complete article, see:
Metropolitan Museum acquires Augustus Saint-Gaudens' "The Man (Standing Lincoln)"
To read an earlier E-Sylum article on the original statue, see:
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE CHICAGO COIN CLUB
Another statue that caught my eye is this one, which was pictured in the Art Daily Newsletter for Friday, February 17, 2012. It's derivative and non-numismatic, but still a great concept.
The statue entitled Unconditional Surrender stands tall in the parkway along the waterfront in San Diego. The statue, which was modeled after a photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt taken in Times Square on V-J Day at the end of World War II, is scheduled to be moved at the end of the month.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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