French Sculpture: Augustus Saint-Gaudens - Diana
This statuette of the athletic goddess is a gift of art that conveys the sense of independence possessed by the modern woman, a fine example of French statuary. Augustus Saint-Gaudens was born in Ireland to a French father and Irish mother but grew up in New York.
The piece traces its ancestry to Saint-Gaudens’ 18-foot statue that was crafted as a revolving finial to crown the tower of Stanford White’s Madison Square Garden, the second Madison Square Garden. After a performance on June 25, 1906 of Mam’zelle Champagne, White was murdered there by Harry Thaw, another of the wealthy New York socialite set, who accused White of debauching his wife, Evelyn Thaw. White had become Evelyn’s lover when she was sixteen and he was forty-seven. White had had a reputation as a philanderer and one wonders why he chose an unclad virgin goddess to grace the building he had designed.
White was an architect and good friend of Saint-Gaudens’ and the latter agreed to forgo a commission to do the work. After its completion, the friends realised, after some time, that the statute was too big for its berth. In addition, the huge ‘sailcloth’ that draped the goddess to satisfy the puritans was starting to blow away. The statute was too French for some New Yorkers. So down she came and in her place a 13-foot likeness went up. This second Diana cast her charm on New York City from 1892 to 1925. She is now housed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. A half-sized replica of this second Diana is held by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Diana, or Artemis as the Greeks called her, was the daughter of Zeus and Leto. She was the twin sister of the sun god, Apollo. Her purview was the chase or hunt. She also overlooked the welfare of pregnant women but never took a husband, swearing to remain a virgin. She is the moon goddess.
This statuette is modeled on the Met’s piece.
Hand patinated Bonded bronze 15.25'' High x 5.25'' Wide x 11.5'' Long including base. Note: the image of the statuette here is bright and shiny. It is actually a muted gold.