Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Sculptor, of New York and Cornish, New Hampshire. Augustus Saint-Gaudens was born in Dublin in 1848, the son of a French shoemaker, Bernard Paul Ernest Saint-Gaudens, and his Irish wife, Mary McGuinness, from Co. Longford, who were married in Dublin in 1841.(1) When Augustus was only six months old, his family emigrated to the United States and settled in New York. Augustus, who was originally apprenticed to a French cameo-cutter in New York, studied under Jouffroy at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris and then worked for five years in Rome. At the age of twenty-seven he returned to the United States, where he embarked on a distinguished and successful career as a sculptor, responsible for such important public works as the Farragut and Sherman monuments in New York and the Robert Gould Shaw memorial in Boston. He was in the process of designing the national coinage at the time of his death in 1907. In Dublin Saint-Gaudens designed the statue of Parnell on the Parnell Monument at the north end of O'Connell Street. Although he accepted the commission in 1900, the formal agreement between himself and the Parnell Monument Committee was not signed until 1903, and there were further delays before the sculpture was finally completed.(2) A full-scale mock-up of the monument - an obelisk with a statue of Parnell at its base - was erected in the grounds of his house at Cornish circa 1905.(3) Saint-Gaudens, who had been diagnosed as having cancer in 1900, became an increasingly sick man during the period covered by the Dublin commission. He never visited the site. The finished sculpture did not arrive in Dublin until 1907, the year of his death, and the obelisk, which was erected under the supervision of GEORGE PATRICK SHERIDAN GEORGE PATRICK SHERIDAN , probably from the designs of HENRY BACON  HENRY BACON of New York, was not completed until 1911. The monument received begrudging notice in the editorial columns of the Irish Builder for 29 July 1922: 'The Parnell monument, as placed, is a noticeable obstruction to traffic…The statue…is certainly a fine work of art, though it makes Parnell excessively niggled and eccentric looking. The late lamented T. Fitzpatrick, the Irish cartoonist, aptly criticised it, when he made the shade of Parnell to soliloquise, "well, I never pretended to be the best dressed man in the House of Commons; but Great Scott! I never wore trousers like these!"'.(4)



References

All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from Sean Rothery, 'Parnell Monument: Ireland & American Beaux Arts', Irish Arts Review 4, no. 1 (Spring 1987), 55-57, and from the biography of Saint-Gaudens in the National Park Service guide to the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, Cornish, New Hampshire. See also Paula Murphy, Nineteenth-Century Irish Sculpture: Native Genius Reaffirmed  (Yale University Press: New Haven & London, 2010), 205-212.

(1) Pro-Cathedral, Dublin, marriage register, 17 Oct 1841.
(2) See Rothery, op. cit., above for a more detailed account of the progress of the commission.
(3) Photocopy of photograph, source unknown, in IAA (Jones file for Saint-Gaudens).
(4) IB 64, 29 Jul 1922, 513.


1 work entries listed in chronological order for SAINT-GAUDENS, AUGUSTUS *#


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Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, O'CONNELL STREET UPPER, PARNELL MONUMENT
Date: 1899-1911
Nature: Sculpture by AS-G, obelisk probably designed by Henry Bacon, New York, and erected under supervision of G.P. Sheridan. For Parnell Monument Committee of Dublin. FS laid 8 Oct 1899. Statue placed in position Aug 1911. Contractor: W. Connolly.
Refs: IB 41. 15 Oct 1899, 161; 43, 12 Sep 1901; 51, 16 Oct 1909, 645; 53, 19 Aug,23 Dec 1911, 546,837(illus.), 64, 29 Jul 1922, ?; IA &B 1, 30 Sep,7 Oct 1911, 495,510; Sean Rothery, 'Parnell Monument: Ireland & American Beaux Arts', Irish Arts Review 4, no. 1 (Spring 1987), 55-57;  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 220;  Paula Murphy, Nineteenth-Century Irish Sculpture: Native Genius Reaffirmed  (Yale University Press: New Haven & London, 2010), 207-212(illus.), 235.