1879 Augustus St. Gaudens Relief Plaque
You brought in this wonderful relief plaque of the artist Francis Millet by Augustus Saint-Gaudens.
Mm-hmm. The plaque was given to my husband by his mother, and by her mother, and her mother was the sister-in-law to Francis Davis Millet.
Francis Millet was one of the leading American painters of the 19th century, and not only was he a painter, but he was an illustrator. He also did mural designs. He worked with Louis Comfort Tiffany on The Armory in New York City, and he also did stained-glass designs. He was very friendly with a number of artists, and he was particularly friendly with Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Millet was married in 1879, and Mark Twain was one of the witnesses at his wedding, as was Augustus Saint-Gaudens. So it's believed that this plaque was made as a wedding gift to Millet by Saint-Gaudens.
Saint-Gaudens was probably the leading American sculptor of the 19th century. His most famous works include the General Sherman monument in New York City, the Robert Shaw Memorial in Boston. This relief plaque is really quite nice. In a very medieval style, he identifies Millet as an artist by including this palette with some brushes. And this particular piece is dated here, 1879, and it also says Paris. And judging by that, if we look on the back, we can see that it was cast using the sandcast technique, which was popular in Paris at this time.
Another interesting aspect in Millet's life is that he died on the Titanic.
This piece is in fairly good condition. A number of these exist. There's an example of this in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York that was given by Millet's daughter. The value of a piece like this, I would say, would be in the $4,000 to $6,000 range.
Very good-- thank you.
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