Object Place: New York, New York
Overall (frame): 78.7 x 73.7 cm (31 x 29 in.) Other (diameter of bronze): 53.3 cm (21 in.)
Medium or Technique
Bronze, brown patina, lost-wax cast
Jan and Warren Adelson Gallery (Gallery 221)
Bronze relief portrait profile. Has original frame.
Augustus Saint-Gaudens was the leading sculptor of the American Renaissance. Apprenticed to a New York cameo cutter, Saint-Gaudens later studied sculpture at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He collaborated on important commissions with the famed architects Henry Hobson Richardson, Charles McKim, and Stanford White and is perhaps best known for his pathbreaking work in bronze.
In his bronze reliefs, which reflect his admiration for the fine reliefs by Italian Renaissance masters Pisanello and Donatello, Saint-Gaudens employed subtle textures and a multitude of painterly effects that create depth and liveliness of surface. He excerpted the portrait of Mildred Howells, a celebrated poet and watercolorist, from a double portrait relief (now lost) of Mildred and her father, the writer and editor William Dean Howells. Saint-Gaudens, who admired both father and daughter, proposed the project himself. Mildred’s forthright gaze, elegant profile, and jaunty pose with her hand on her hip reveal a stylish and confident young woman. The relief is set in its original frame, believed to have been designed by Saint-Gaudens’s friend Stanford White.
This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.
"MILDRED . HOWELLS . / NEW-YORK . M . DC. C. C. / . XCVIII. / . FROM . AVGVSTVS . SAINT-GAVDENS "
William Dean Howells, New York; Mildred Howells, Boston.
Gift of Miss Mildred Howells