Mariana Griswold Van Rensselaer (1851–1934), an influential author, critic, and reformer, championed Saint-Gaudens in articles on his public monuments and relief sculptures. In this elongated portrait, the sculptor made full use of the textural possibilities of his medium by modeling the sitter’s dress and collar with lively surfaces that contrast with her smooth skin. The inscription animvs non opvs ("the spirit, not the work") refers to Van Rensselaer’s high-minded aesthetic ideals. The bronze is encased in a carved oak frame designed by Stanford White; the floral medallions on the frame cleverly echo those at the bottom of the relief.
Inscription: [lower center]: TO MARIANA • GRISWOLD • / VAN RENSSELAER • / • AVGVSTVS / SAINT-GAVDENS •; [right center]: • M • / • D • C • C • C • LXXX / • VIIl •; [upper center]: ANIMVS • NON • OPVS •
Marking: [foundry mark, lower right edge]: [cursive] Cast by The Henry-Bonnard Co / New York 1890
The sitter’s sister Edith Green Griswold Higginson, 1890–1896; Mrs. Schuyler (Mariana Griswold) Van Rensselaer, 1896–1917