The Puritan

Augustus Saint-Gaudens American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 774

In 1881 Saint-Gaudens was commissioned by Chester W. Chapin, a railroad tycoon and congressman, to sculpt a large-scale bronze likeness of an ancestor, Deacon Samuel Chapin (1595–1675), a prominent early settler of Springfield, Massachusetts. The sculptor wrote in his "Reminiscences" that: "The statue . . . was to represent Deacon Samuel Chapin, but I developed it into an embodiment . . . of the 'Puritan.'" On Thanksgiving Day 1887, "The Puritan" was unveiled on Stearns Square in Springfield, at one end of a site designed by Stanford White. The monument was relocated to Merrick Park in 1899. In "The Puritan," Saint-Gaudens successfully translated an abstract idea into three-dimensional form. The figure is not an individual portrait, but a representation of Puritan dogma. Eyes focused downward, he strides with a knotty walking stick across the pine-strewn New England wilderness, symbolized by a few scattered branches on the base. About 1894, Saint-Gaudens resolved to make reductions after the full-size "Puritan," because of the statue's popularity and for the income he would derive. By mid-1898 bronze reductions were being cast in Paris. Located reductions, which number more than forty, reveal minor alterations to the figure. Examples vary in the angles of the hat and the walking stick and particularly in the coloration, which ranges from gold to brown to the green of the Metropolitan's cast.

The Puritan, Augustus Saint-Gaudens (American, Dublin 1848–1907 Cornish, New Hampshire), Bronze, American

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