Augustus Saint–Gaudens (American, 18481907)
Marble; 18 5/8 x 9 1/4 x 6 1/2 in. (47.3 x 23.5 x 16.5 cm)
Gift of Allan H. Smith, 1990 (1990.317)
After moving to Rome in 1870, Saint-Gaudens shared a studio with the Portuguese sculptor Antonio Soares dos Reis (18471889) in the gardens of the Palazzo Barberini. In 1872, Hannah Rohr Tuffs visited him there and commissioned her portrait in cameo (1990.78.2a,b). Mrs. Tuffs was accompanied by her youngest sister, Eva Rohr, who was studying opera in Rome. In Saint-Gaudens' first marble portrait bust executed for a patron, Eva Rohr is depicted playing the part of Marguerite in Gounod's Faust. The young woman gazes downward demurely, her lowered head accentuated by a long braid of hair trailing over her left shoulder. The inscription on the Gothic-style pedestal is an English translation of Marguerite's first words to Faust in the opera. Several of Saint-Gaudens' biographers interpret this as an allusion to Rohr's amorous feelings for the sculptor. Their friendship is proven by two painted pie pans (private collection) that Saint-Gaudens humorously decorated and returned to Rohr after she baked the pies for a party at his studio.