Hiawatha

Artist: Augustus Saint-Gaudens (American, Dublin 1848–1907 Cornish, New Hampshire)

Date: 1871–72, carved 1874

Medium: Marble

Dimensions: Figure: 60 x 34 1/2 x 37 1/4 in. (152.4 x 87.6 x 94.6 cm)
Base (Granite base): 23 in.
Other (Plinth with inscription): 5 3/4 in. (14.6 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Gift of Diane, Daniel, and Mathew Wolf, in memory of Catherine Hoover Voorsanger, 2001

Accession Number: 2001.641

Description

Saint-Gaudens’s three years of study in Paris came to an abrupt end with the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War. He left for Rome in late 1870 and soon began “Hiawatha,” his first full-length statue, inspired by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem “The Song of Hiawatha” (1855). Seated on a rock in a contemplative pose, with his quiver of arrows and bow nearby, the Chippewa chief is “pondering, musing in the forest /On the welfare of his people,” as an excerpt from Longfellow’s poem inscribed on the base declares. Saint-Gaudens worked only briefly in such a romanticized Neoclassical manner before progressing to the fluid Beaux-Arts style of his innovative bronze monuments and low-relief portraits.

Related