Augustus Saint-Gaudens (American, Dublin 1848–1907 Cornish, New Hampshire)
1884–85, carved 1906–7
68 7/8 x 51 in. (174.9 x 129.5 cm. )
Gift of Jacob H. Schiff, 1905
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 701
Saint-Gaudens excelled at the art of relief sculpture—modeled forms raised in varying degrees from a two-dimensional background. In this ambitious double portrait of Mortimer Leo (1877–1931) and Frieda Fanny (1876–1958) Schiff, the artist’s technical command is evident, from the delicate, sketchy treatment of the Scottish deerhound’s wiry fur to Mortimer’s fully rounded foot extending over the edge of the plinth into the viewer’s space. The three-dimensional illusion is further enhanced by the architectural structure within which the children are framed. Their father, Jacob H. Schiff, was a prominent New York banker and philanthropist, who paid for the carving of this replica for the Metropolitan Museum in 1905.