Cornish Celebration Presentation Plaquette

Augustus Saint-Gaudens American

Not on view

On the evening of June 22, 1905, Saint-Gaudens’s twenty years in Cornish, New Hampshire, were marked by a celebratory tribute in the form of an elaborately planned open-air play titled "A Masque of ‘Ours’: The Gods and the Golden Bowl." The pageant was written by Louis Shipman; the music was composed by Arthur Whiting and performed by members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Among the many Cornish Colony residents, young and old, who assumed the roles of mythical gods and goddesses were painter Maxfield Parrish, who created the actors’ masks and played the role of the centaur Chiron, and Saint-Gaudens’s assistant Frances Grimes who delivered the prologue as Iris, messenger of the gods. Other notable players were architect Charles Platt, painter Everett Shinn, and poet Percy MacKaye.

Saint-Gaudens’s pleasure at this fête champêtre, as he called it, resulted in his modeling an affectionate tribute to the masque participants in the form of silvered plaquettes struck in Paris and distributed during the summer of 1906 (the playwright Shipman received a large gilded bronze version; 2017.155). The classicizing design, topped by the golden bowl presented to Saint-Gaudens at the end of the play, recreates the Arcadian setting of the masque—curtained trees flanking a columned temple with a lighted altar. Winged Amor appears on the temple steps with a lyre. On the pediment above and the plinth below, Saint-Gaudens painstakingly included the name of all the participants in the masque, and the back of each plaquette was inscribed with the individual recipient’s name.

The painter Kenyon Cox, a member of the committee for the sculptor’s memorial exhibition held at the Metropolitan in 1908, presented his plaquette to the Metropolitan that year.

Cornish Celebration Presentation Plaquette, Augustus Saint-Gaudens (American, Dublin 1848–1907 Cornish, New Hampshire), Bronze and silver, American

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