Saint-Gaudens Biography

1886 The Adams Memorial

The ability to reconcile opposing qualities was both a gift and a skill that Saint-Gaudens worked hard to perfect. Hired by the writer Henry Adams to provide a grave sculpture in remembrance of his wife, where he also planned to be buried, the forty-year-old Saint-Gaudens met a challenge that might have stopped a lesser artist: memorializing a woman who had committed suicide. Adams, who had gone to Asia and become interested in Buddhism, did not give personal instructions to Saint-Gaudens and provided only the merest idea of a direction to take. Saint-Gaudens made studies of both male and female models and created a heavily draped "presence" that, in its secluded place in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, D.C., inspires contemplation and serenity.

Augustus Saint-Gaudens, The Adams Memorial (detail), 1890-1891, bronze, Washington D.C., Rock Creek Cemetery; The Adams Memorial (clay sketch), Dartmouth College Library; Augustus Saint-Gaudens, The Adams Memorial, 1890-1891, bronze, Washington D.C., Rock Creek Cemetery, photograph by Jerry L. Thompson

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

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