Augustus Saint-Gaudens (American, 1848–1907)
28 1/4 x 16 1/4 x 14 in. (71.8 x 41.3 x 35.6 cm)
Gift of Lincoln Kirstein, 1985 (1985.353)
Designed as a weathervane for the tower of Madison Square Garden in 1891, Diana was the first monumental work from which Saint-Gaudens produced reductions. In 1892–93, he remodeled his original Diana, which at 18 feet high was too large in proportion to the tower, into a 13-foot-high sculpture (now at the Philadelphia Museum of Art). This second version was installed on Madison Square Garden in 1893, and it served as the basis for the reductions, with the flying drapery eliminated. In 1895, Saint-Gaudens obtained a copyright for reductions of Diana, producing three variant editions. The second in this series is a 21-inch figure, gracefully poised on a sphere upon a two-tiered base; it was cast as early as 1894 at the Gruet foundry in Paris. The Museum's statuette, which is of this rare variant, reflects the amount of attention that Saint-Gaudens lavished on his Diana reductions. The casts were remodeled by hand rather than mechanically reduced, and they vary in details such as the bow, arrow, hair, and base. The figure is beautifully chased with especially fine treatment to the hair and facial features. The matte gold-colored patination, composed of gold, copper, and zinc, was applied by the electroplating process. The rich tone alone is a testament to Saint-Gaudens' concern with the finishing and patination of his pieces.
Before entering the Museum's collection, this cast belonged to Lincoln Kirstein, cofounder of the New York City Ballet and author of books on such American sculptors as Saint-Gaudens, William Rimmer, and Elie Nadelman.