Artist: Augustus Saint-Gaudens (American, Dublin 1848–1907 Cornish, New Hampshire)
Date: 1879, cast probably 1880
Dimensions: 13 1/2 x 16 7/8 in. (34.3 x 42.9 cm)
Credit Line: Purchase, Morris K. Jesup Fund and Mr. and Mrs. Richard J. Schwartz Gift, 1994
Accession Number: 1994.50
In one of Saint-Gaudens’s earliest representations of childhood’s innocence, the cherubic head of Rodman de Kay Gilder (1877-1953) floats on a field of bronze. Saint-Gaudens excerpted this head study of the toddler from portrait of Richard Watson Gilder’s family completed several months earlier (2002.445). Saint-Gaudens’s love of technical experimentation in his sculpture is evident in the scumbled treatment of hair and clothing resembling thickly-applied painted pigment, the wispy horizontal striations of the background recalling etching, and the cornice-like architectural element above. Saint-Gaudens was particularly pleased by the quality of this bronze, which he "cast on this side of the ‘Pond’" (rather than in Paris), at a time when the American art bronze casting industry was coming of age.