Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Robert Louis Stevenson

Artist:
Augustus Saint-Gaudens (American, Dublin 1848–1907 Cornish, New Hampshire)
Date:
1887–88; cast 1910
Medium:
Bronze
Dimensions:
35 1/4 in., 116lb. (89.5 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture
Credit Line:
Gift by subscription through the Saint-Gaudens Memorial Committee, 1912
Accession Number:
12.76.1
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 771
Impressed by Robert Louis Stevenson’s collection of stories "New Arabian Nights" (1882), Saint-Gaudens told their mutual friend, Will Low, that he would be honored to model a portrait if the writer were ever to come to the United States. The opportunity presented itself in 1887–88, when Stevenson (1850–1894) sat for the sculptor in New York and later in Manasquan, New Jersey. Stevenson, suffering from tuberculosis, is shown writing in bed, as was his custom. The lengthy inscription is a poem by Stevenson dedicated to Low and published in 1887. The portrait became Saint-Gaudens’s most popular relief and was produced in three diameters (this is the largest size) as well as in rectangular variants.
Inscription: [signed, dated, and inscribed]: (upper center) TO ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON IN HIS THIRTY SEVENTH YEAR• / •AVGVSTVS SAINT-GAVDENS•; (right center) REPLICA•MADE•FOR•THE / METROPOLITAN•MUSEUM / OF•ART•ASPET•M•C•M•X; (left) •YOUTH•NOW•FLEES•ON•FEATHERED•FOOT• / •FAINT•AND•FAINTER•SOUNDS•THE•FLUTE• / •RARER•SONG•OF•GODS•AND•STILL• / •SOMEWHERE•ON•THE•SUNNY•HILL• / OR ALONG•THE•WINDING•STREAM• / •THROUGH•THE•WILLOWS•FLITS•A•DREAM• / •FLITS BUT•SHOWS•A•SMILING•FACE• / •FLEES•BUT•WITH•SO•QUAINT•A•GRACE• / •NONE•CAN•CHOOSE•TO•STAY•AT•HOME• / •ALL•MUST•FOLLOW•ALL•MUST•ROAM• / / •THIS•IS•UNBORN•BEAUTY•SHE• / •NOW•IN•AIR•FLOATS•HIGH•AND•FREE• / •TAKES•THE•SUN•AND•BREAKS•THE•BLUE• / •LATE•WITH•SWOOPING•PINION•FLEW• / •RAKING•HEDGEROW•TREES•AND•WET• / •HER•WING•IN•SILVER•STREAMS•AND•SET• / •SHINING•FOOT•ON•TEMPLE•ROOF• / •NOW•AGAIN•SHE•FLIES•ALOOF• / •COASTING•MOUNTAIN•CLOUDS•AND•KISS'T• / •BY•THE•EVENING'S•AMETHYST• / / •IN•WET•WOOD•AND•MIRY•LANE• / •STILL•WE•PANT•AND•POUND•IN•VAIN• / •STILL•WITH•LEADEN•FOOT•WE•CHASE• / •WANING•PINION•FAINTING•FACE• / •STILL•WITH•GREY•HAIR•WE•STUMBLE•ON• / •TILL•BEHOLD•THE•VISION•GONE• / / •WHERE HATH•FLEETING BEAUTY•LED• / •TO THE DOORWAY OF•THE•DEAD• / / •LIFE•IS•OVER•LIFE•WAS•GAY• / •WE•HAVE•COME•THE•PRIMROSE•WAY• / / •M•D•C•C•C•L•XXXVII•
Commissioned by the Saint-Gaudens Memorial Committee for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, until 1912
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