Saint-Gaudens Biography

1885 The Standing Lincoln Memorial

Saint-Gaudens' memorial to Abraham Lincoln was inspired by the artist's memory of his parents crying over news of the president's assassination. Saint-Gaudens had waited in a long line to see Lincoln lying in state in New York's City Hall and had returned to the line to gaze at the dead president a second time. He also witnessed Lincoln's funeral and later recalled his image of that day as a sea of hats removed in solemn acknowledgment of the great man's passing. Saint-Gaudens agonized over how to present the nation's preserver of the Union: as a man burdened by dreadful worries or as America's great speechmaker? In the end Saint-Gaudens managed to convey both: his image is of Lincoln as a heroic figure having just stood up from a chair, deep in thought before delivering a speech.

Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Abraham Lincoln ("The Standing Lincoln") (full view and detail), 1887, bronze, Chicago, Lincoln Park

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Saint-Gaudens BiographyWorking Method
IntroductionThe ArtistHistorical BackgroundThe Memorial and Its ConservationThe ExhibitionTeaching Resources

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