Published: January 26, 2021
NEW YORK CITY – Leigh Keno presented a minimalist Americana auction on January 23, comprising just five lots, a rare painting of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart, a bronze sculpture of Goddess Diana by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, two Chinese porcelain vases and a piece of Outsider art.
Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ (American 1848-1907) bronze figure of the Goddess Diana hit the high mark, finishing at $506,250 with premium chased there by 49 bids. Leigh Keno said it’s the third highest price for “Diana” and the fifth highest price for a Saint-Gaudens sculpture. Its new home is with a young couple who were the successful bidders. The figure is a classic, certainly familiar to those who remember the sculptor’s second version as a famous New York City landmark, “Diana of the Tower,” standing atop the tower of Madison Square Garden from 1893 to 1925 and afterwards entering the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This version made by Aubry Brothers bronze foundry, New York, circa 1895, portrays the goddess similarly holding a large recurve bow with arrow and perched upon a hemisphere and integral square plinth. She stands 31 inches high and has a provenance trail that includes Frank P. Ewing, Wilmington, Del., a 1959 purchase by Constantine “Gus” Sclavos (1896-1985) owner of Glasgow Arms restaurant, Glasgow, Del., and his daughter Mary Sclavos Murphy (1925-2020), Elkton, Del. It has a remarkable story of survival when a large truck barreled into the restaurant in the mid-1970s.
Prior to the discovery of the present “Diana of the Tower,” there were just six examples of the 31-inch (height of figure alone) reductions known. This newly discovered sculpture is the seventh. Saint Gaudens had these large bronze “reductions” cast by the Aubry Brothers bronze foundry in downtown Manhattan.
Watch for a full review of this sale in an upcoming issue.
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