Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Pyle on Saint-Gaudens’s Sherman Monument

On May 30, 1903, Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s Sherman Monument was unveiled at the southeast corner of Central Park in New York City. Although there’s no known evidence that Howard Pyle was present at the ceremony, we do know that he saw it in place within the next few days. Pyle, who delivered an address at Yale University’s School of Fine Arts in New Haven, Connecticut, on June 1, and passed through Manhattan on the way there and back, wrote to Saint-Gaudens on June 4:
I have just returned from New York and I feel that I want to tell you how beautiful I think your Sherman Memorial Statue to be.

It impresses me, as your work always does, as being not only beautiful but great, and I am sure that it is not prejudice upon my part but a matter of calm judgment that leads me to feel that you are easily the leading sculptor in the world today -

I could say more - but will not do so.
Saint-Gaudens’s reply is lost, but Pyle’s letter seems to have reminded him to send a copy of his bronze Robert Louis Stevenson medallion, which he’d promised to give Pyle a year earlier - after Pyle had sent Saint-Gaudens his pen-and-ink drawing “The Song of Peace”. Pyle received it on July 15, 1903, and apparently it’s still owned by his descendants.

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