Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Robert Louis Stevenson

Artist:
Augustus Saint-Gaudens (American, Dublin 1848–1907 Cornish, New Hampshire)
Date:
1887–88, cast 1898
Medium:
Bronze
Dimensions:
Diam. 17 7/8 in. (45.4 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture
Credit Line:
Gift of Anne Tonetti Gugler, in memory of her mother, Mary Lawrence Tonetti, 1981
Accession Number:
1981.55.2
Not on view
Saint-Gaudens met noted author Robert Louis Stevenson after reading his "New Arabian Nights," published in 1882. The sculptor recalled in his "Reminiscences": "My introduction to these stories set me aflame as few things in literature. So when I subsequently found that my friend, Mr. [Will Hicok] Low knew Stevenson quite well, I told him that, if Stevenson ever crossed to this side of the water, I should consider it an honor if he would allow me to make his portrait." After arriving in America, Stevenson agreed to sit for Saint-Gaudens, without hesitation. The author deemed the finished relief a "speaking likeness." He also thought the inscribed verses (a poem by Stevenson dedicated to Low, their mutual friend) "look[ed] remarkably well." Saint-Gaudens depicted Stevenson reclining in bed, cigarette poised in hand, with pieces of paper balanced on his knees. The first version of “Robert Louis Stevenson," cast in 1887, was rectangular. Saint-Gaudens later adapted it to a circular format that he considered superior. Numerous casts of this medallion were made during and after the artist’s lifetime. This cast was executed under Saint-Gaudens’ supervision and was made specifically for his student, Mary Lawrence (Tonetti).
Signature: [upper right]: TO • MARY • LAWRENCE / AUGUSTUS • / SAINT-GAUDENS

Inscription: [upper left]: ROBERT • LOUIS STEVENSON; [lower center]: COPYRIGT • AUGUSTUS • SAINT-GAUDENS; [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 [sic] • 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 • LXXXVII
Mary Lawrence Tonetti, 1898–d. 1945; her daughter Anne Tonetti Gugler, until 1981
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