|1861 - 1867 A Cameo Maker's Apprentice
When the young Saint-Gaudens expressed his interest in an art career, his father apprenticed him to a French cameo cutter. From thirteen to nineteen years of age he worked preparing stones, cutting and polishing background, and occasionally carving cameos. Though the first three years under a punitive master were spent in what Saint-Gaudens later described as "miserable slavery," his second master allowed him liberal use of a stone-cameo lathe and instructed him in modeling. The apprenticeship years gave Saint-Gaudens a source of expression that sustained him throughout his career. For, from this place Augustus Saint-Gaudens would become one of America's great masters of relief sculpture and memorial statuary.
Augustus Saint-Gaudens at a cameo lathe, photograph, U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, Cornish, New Hampshire