Augustus Saint-Gaudens (Dictionary of World Biography: The 19th Century)
Article abstract: Saint-Gaudens’ memorial statues of America’s greatest men and women are generally regarded as among the most beautiful and inspired examples of late nineteenth century artistic realism.
Augustus Saint-Gaudens was born March 1, 1848, in Dublin, Ireland. His father was Bernard Paul Ernest Saint-Gaudens, formerly of the village of Aspet in southern France, a shoemaker who emigrated to London and then Dublin. It was in the latter city that he met and married Mary McGuiness, a handcrafter of slippers formerly from Bally Mahon, County Longford. Their first children, George and Louis, died in childhood; then Augustus was born in Dublin; finally, Andrew and another Louis were born in the United States.
Emigration from Ireland to the United States took place in 1848, during Augustus’ infancy and the ruinous Potato Famine. The small family arrived at Boston but soon moved to New York City. Here the children were brought up in the Catholic faith and attended public schools.
A patron of the arts, Dr. Cornelius Rea Agnew, saw some pen-and-ink drawings by the child Augustus in his father’s shop and recommended that he be apprenticed to an artist. Accordingly, in 1861, when he was thirteen, the boy began his apprenticeship under a stern taskmaster named Avet, a stone-cameo cutter.
The Civil War years and the personalities of that era impressed themselves upon the...
(The entire section is 1571 words.)
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