Diana

Augustus Saint-Gaudens, American (born Ireland), 1848 - 1907

Geography:
Made in Salem, Ohio, United States, North and Central America
And made in Cornish, New Hampshire, United States, North and Central America

Date:
1892-93

Medium:
Copper sheets, gilded

Dimensions:
Figure (Height): 157 inches (398.8 cm) Figure including Ball (Height): 174 inches (442 cm)

Curatorial Department:
American Art

Object Location:

* Great Stair Hall Balcony, second floor

Accession Number:
1932-30-1

Credit Line:
Gift of the New York Life Insurance Company, 1932

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Label:
The celebrated sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens created Diana as a weathervane for the second Madison Square Garden building in New York City, designed by his equally renowned friend and frequent collaborator, the architect Stanford White. Saint-Gaudens's graceful rendering of the Roman goddess of the hunt makes reference to classical sculpture, but her athletic fitness and elongated proportions are strikingly modern. The figure was originally gilded and fitted with a billowing drapery to catch the wind. On her 300-foot-high tower, Diana became the highest point in the city and was the area's first statue to be lit at night by electricity. Diana remained a New York landmark until the structure was torn down in 1925 and the sculpture acquired by this Museum.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the most celebrated American sculptor of his day, created Diana as a weathervane for the tower of the first Madison Square Garden in New York, designed by his equally renowned friend and frequent collaborator, Stanford White. The lithe Roman goddess of the hunt, standing on tiptoe as she draws her bow, embodied the festive spirit of a building that was conceived as the "most magnificent amusement palace in the world." Like White's eclectic architecture Saint-Gaudens's graceful young woman referred to the great art of past ages and her presence in the Museum's vast Neoclassical stair hall seems perfectly apt. Her undraped figure was historically correct, but her athletic fitness and elongated proportions were strikingly modern, and her nudity initially provoked indignant comments. Hammered from thin copper sheets for lightness, Diana originally was gilded and had a drapery billowing out behind to catch the wind. Gleaming in sunshine or in electric spotlights--then still a novelty-- Diana on her three-hundred-foot tower was then the highest point in New York City, and she quickly gained respectability as a symbol of the sophistication of the growing metropolis. Darrel Sewell, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 293.

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