Augustus Saint-Gaudens first came to Cornish in 1885, after being invited by his friend and lawyer, Charles Beaman. Beaman rented Saint-Gaudens an unsuccessful inn, which Saint-Gaudens renamed "Aspet," after his father's birthplace in France. He converted a hay barn into a studio, and spent the next five summers in Cornish with his wife, Augusta and their son, Homer.
Saint-Gaudens' greatest legacy may be his public monuments, such as the Sherman Monument in New York's Central Park and his "Standing Lincoln" in Chicago, one of the finest representations of the Civil War President. Infused with both realism and idealism, Saint-Gaudens' monuments had a dynamic quality not seen before in American sculpture. The monument to Gen. William T. Sherman is a dramatic example of this technique, with the winged Victory leading a resolute Sherman on his march to the sea. He produced other enduring and distinctive public sculpture, such as the Adams Memorial, the PeterCooperMonument, and the Gen. John A. Logan Monument.
Perhaps his greatest achievement during this period was the Shaw Memorial, unveiled in Boston in 1897. Described as Saint-Gaudens' "symphony in bronze," this masterpiece took 14 years to complete.
Saint-Gaudens pioneered the integration of architecture, landscape design, and monumental sculpture, collaborating with leading architects like Stanford White to create innovative and unique settings for his works.
After being diagnosed with cancer in 1900, Saint Gaudens decided to make Cornish his home year round. For the next seven years, despite diminishing energy, he continued to work, producing a steady stream of reliefs and public sculpture. Saint-Gaudens died on August 3, 1907. Augusta and Homer continued to summer at Aspet and in 1919, they established the Saint-Gaudens Memorial, an organization dedicated to preserving the home, studios, gardens, fields and woodlands as an historic site. In 1965, the Memorial donated the property to the National Park Service.
Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site is the home of over 100 of Saint-Gaudens' works, including copies of The Shaw Memorial, The Adams Memorial, the Farragut Monument, the Diana, his earliest cameos, coin plasters and many reliefs.
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Did You Know?
Augustus Saint-Gaudens ended his formal schooling at age 13 and was then apprenticed for six years to a cameo cutter. He later used this skill to support himself during the early years of his career.