In one of Saint-Gaudens’s earliest representations of childhood’s innocence, the cherubic head of Rodman de Kay Gilder (1877-1953) floats on a field of bronze. Saint-Gaudens excerpted this head study of the toddler from portrait of Richard Watson Gilder’s family completed several months earlier (2002.445). Saint-Gaudens’s love of technical experimentation in his sculpture is evident in the scumbled treatment of hair and clothing resembling thickly-applied painted pigment, the wispy horizontal striations of the background recalling etching, and the cornice-like architectural element above. Saint-Gaudens was particularly pleased by the quality of this bronze, which he "cast on this side of the ‘Pond’" (rather than in Paris), at a time when the American art bronze casting industry was coming of age.
Signature: [upper right]: • FE / A ST G [monogram] / CIT
Inscription: [lower center]: • RODMAN • DE KAY • GILDER • PARIS • SEPTEMBER • 1879 •
the sitter's father Richard Watson Gilder, ca. 1880–d. 1909; Rodman de Kay Gilder, d.1953; by descent in family until 1993; [Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York, 1993–1994]