Note from Pamela: Did you know that there are over 200 statues of Abraham Lincoln in the United States? (Only four are on the west coast.) Malena, who I tutor in history and the humanities (literature, philosophy, art) fell in love with Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ statue of Lincoln. So…I suggested she research the story behind the artist and his statue. The following post is what Malena learned. In the coming weeks, stay tuned for two more stories about two more Lincoln statues.
“The Standing Lincoln” or “Lincoln, the Man”
by Augustus Saint-Gaudens
Located in Lincoln Park, Chicago, Illinois
Dedicated on 10/22/1887
My Favorite Lincoln by Malena Ani
Augustus Saint-Gaudens was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1848. His father was French and his mother was Irish. Augustus’ father, Bernard Paul Ernest Saint-Gaudens, was a shoemaker. The family immigrated to New York when Augustus was a baby. Augustus dropped out of school when he was thirteen to become an apprentice to a cameo cutter. He was exposed to the world of art in New York City, and took art classes at Cooper Union and the National Academy of Art. When his apprenticeship with the cameo cutter ended, Augustus was 19 years old. Ready to follow his dream of becoming a sculptor, Augustus moved to Paris to study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.
Augustus spent three years studying in Paris. He made cameos and copied famous sculptures. In 1870, at the start of the French-Prussian War, Augustus went to Rome to study Classical and Renaissance sculpture. Augustus spent five years in Rome. He moved back to New York in 1875 and started working for Tiffany Studios designing ornamental metalwork. While Augustus was studying in Rome, he met Augusta Fisher Homer, who came to Rome from Boston to study painting. Augustus and Augusta married in 1877. Soon after their marriage, Augustus got his first commission to create a statue of Admiral Farragut, a flag officer of the United States Navy during the Civil War. ‘’Admiral Farragut’’ (1881) stands in Madison Square Garden in New York City. (Vinnie Ream also sculpted Admiral Farragut in 1881. Her sculpture stands in Washington D.C).
In 1861, President Lincoln was in New York City making appearances and speeches before his first inauguration. Augustus recorded his sighting of Abraham Lincoln in his journal: ‘’Lincoln stood tall in the carriage, his dark uncovered head bent in contemplative acknowledgment of the waiting people. ‘’ Augustus and his family loved Lincoln and were devastated when he was assassinated four years later. Augustus wrote about attending Lincoln’s funeral in New York City Hall. ‘’I saw Lincoln lying in state in City Hall, and I went back to the end of the line to look at him again. This completed my vision of the big man, though the funeral . . . deepened the profound solemnity of my impression.”
Augustus Saint-Gaudens was commissioned to create a bronze sculpture of Abraham Lincoln in 1884 for Lincoln Park in Chicago. Charles C. Beaman, Augustus’ friend, urged Augustus to work on the statue in Cornish, New Hampshire where Augustus owned an estate that he called ‘’Aspet.’’ To persuade Augustus to work on the statue in Cornish, Charles told him there were many ‘’Lincoln shaped men’’ to use as models in the area. Indeed, Augustus found Langdon Morse to be his model. Langdon was tall and thin, just like Lincoln. Augustus Saint-Gauden’s ‘’Abraham Lincoln: The Man’’ (1884–1887) is 12 feet tall. Lincoln is standing in front of his chair, his head tilted down as if he is gathering his thoughts before giving a speech. The monument was dedicated on October 22, 1887. Lincoln’s son, Robert Lincoln, said that it was the best sculpture ever made of his father.
For the next ten years, Augustus was busy sculpting more beautiful sculptures, including the “Sherman Memorial”, “Adams Memorial,” and “Diana.” He also taught sculpting at the Arts League of New York. In 1880, he and Augusta had a son, who they named Homer after her family name. In 1897, Augustus was commissioned to sculpt another Lincoln statue.
John Crerar, a wealthy Chicago businessman, left $100,000 in his will for a Lincoln statue. Augustus was commissioned for the project. He decided to sculpt a seated Lincoln this time. In 1904, he was nearing completion of the sculpture in his New Hampshire studio when it was destroyed in a fire. Augustus was 56 and suffering from cancer. Due to his poor health, the sculpture was redone with the help of his assistants, Henry Hering and Elsie Ward. Draped in the American Flag, ‘’Abraham Lincoln: Head of State’’ sits in Grant Park in Chicago.
Augustus last project was much smaller. He was asked by Theodore Roosevelt to design the 1907 United States gold coin. He was the first sculptor to design an American coin. He called the $20 gold piece ‘’Double Eagle.’’ Augustus Saint-Gaudens died of cancer on August 3, 1907 at his home ‘’Aspet’’ in Cornish New Hampshire. He was only 59 years old.
Augustus Saint-Gaudens | American sculptor. (n.d.). Retrieved December 4, 2015, from http://www.britannica.com/biography/Augustus-Saint-Gaudens
About Augustus Saint-Gaudens. (2000, December 13). Retrieved December 4, 2015, from http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/augustus-saint-gaudens-about-augustus-saint-gaudens/695/
United States. National Park Service. (2015, December 4). Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved December 4, 2015, from http://www.nps.gov/saga/faqs.htm
Lincoln Bicentennial. (n.d.). Retrieved December 4, 2015, from http://www.nps.gov/saga/learn/historyculture/upload/Lincoln project G.pdf
Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts Fifty-fourth Regiment. (n.d.). Retrieved December 4, 2015, from http://www.nga.gov/content/dam/ngaweb/Education/learning-resources/teaching-packets/pdfs/Shaw-brochure.pdf