Augustus Saint-Gaudens (American, Dublin 1848–1907 Cornish, New Hampshire)
1884, cast 1893
Diam. 14 1/4 in. (36.2 cm)
Gift of Anne Tonetti Gugler, 1981
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 774
Saint-Gaudens frequently experimented with the size, format, and medium of his works, often driven to further refine completed compositions. The sculptor revised the original marble rectangular portrait of Bessie Springs Smith White (1862-1950) (1976.388) to a bust-length tondo format, relocating the inscription and adding an ivy-vine border alluding to affection and friendship. This bronze cast was in fact a gift of friendship to Mary Lawrence Tonetti, who was one of Saint-Gaudens’s studio assistants during the 1890s and a distant cousin of the sitter.
Inscription: [left center]: BESSIE • WHITE / FEBRVARY / VII / M • D • C • C • C • L • XXX • IV / FROM A StG
Marking: [foundry mark, edge, underside of veil]: Cast by Lorme & Aubry. / N.Y. 1893.
Mary Lawrence Tonetti, d. 1945; her daughter Anne Tonetti Gugler, until 1981