Augustus Saint-Gaudens (American, Dublin 1848–1907 Cornish, New Hampshire)
1884, carved by 1888
25 x 12 in., (63.5 x 30.5 cm)
Gift of Erving Wolf Foundation, in memory of Diane R. Wolf, 1976
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 768
Saint-Gaudens completed this portrait of Bessie Smith White (1862-1950) on the occasion of her marriage to the architect Stanford White in 1884. Modeling the portrait was the sculptor’s gift to the couple, and he then funded its translation to marble to settle a debt with White. Bessie White is depicted in her bridal ensemble, brushing aside the flowing veil and holding rose blooms symbolizing love and beauty. By the mid-1880s, Saint-Gaudens’s style of relief sculpture was more technically ambitious, incorporating passages of low and high relief, ranging from the sketchy veil to the deeply undercut chin. The tabernacle frame with a scrollwork and floral pattern was designed by White.
Signature: [lower left corner]: •AVGVSTVS • SAINT-GAVDENS • / FECIT •; [upper center] • FEBRVARY • VII • M • D • C • C • C • LXXXIV •
Stanford White, died 1906; Bessie Springs Smith White, died 1950; by descent in the family, St. James, N.Y., until 1976