Commissioned from the celebrated American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens
the early 1880s and dedicated as a monument in 1897, the Shaw Memorial has
been acclaimed as the greatest American sculpture of the nineteenth century.
The relief masterfully depicts Colonel Shaw and the first African American
infantry unit from the North to fight for the Union during the Civil War.
Rare and early plaster sketches of the memorial, the angel, and six portrait
heads of African American soldiers are also exhibited. The sculpture combines
the real and allegorical, and presents a balance of restraint and vitality.
The memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts Fifty-fourth Regiment
is on a ten-year renewable loan to the Gallery from the National Park Service,
Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, Cornish, New Hampshire.
The Shaw Memorial Project is made possible by
the generous support of The Circle of the National Gallery of Art
Additional support is provided by Shell Oil Company Foundation