MARLBOROUGH, Mass. — Skinner Auctioneers is hosting an auction on January 28 of American Works of Art, featuring a highly valuable Abraham Lincoln sculpture by Augustus Saint-Gaudens (American, 1848-1907), considered the most prominent and celebrated sculptor of his time. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
The sculpture, titled Abraham Lincoln: The Man (Standing Lincoln), 1884-1887, cast before 1926, is made of bronze, has a brown patina and stands 40in tall. The work depicts the 16th president of the United States standing with his head bent gently downwards in introspection and humility, and his left foot slightly forward, in a posture he often assumed when readying to give a speech. The work is estimated to sell for $700,000 to $900,000.
The first commission of Saint-Gaudens work was in 1883, for Chicago’s Lincoln Park. Saint-Gaudens pulled inspiration for this monumental work from his experience of seeing Lincoln in person in New York in late 1860 or early 1861. He noted, “Lincoln stood tall in carriage, his dark uncovered head bent in contemplative acknowledgement of the waiting people, and the broadcloth of his black coat shone rich and silken in the sunlight.” Saint-Gaudens used his recollections, a local model of similar build and life casts made of Lincoln’s face and hands to create his evocative Lincoln.
The casting of the reduced 40in version of the Standing Lincoln was overseen by the artist’s widow, Augusta Fisher Homer Saint-Gaudens. She began casting in 1912 and made approximately 17. As an artist herself, she understood the complexities of the process, and fiercely oversaw the casts to be certain that they were of the highest quality. She utilized several of her husband’s studio assistants and used only the foundries that her husband had trusted to cast his works. She was careful to distinguish the casts she oversaw by including the inscription “COPYRIGHT 1912 BY A.H.SAINT-GAUDENS” on the back of the base.
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