Augustus Saint-Gaudens - Mildred Howells, 1897

Augustus Saint-Gaudens (Dublin, 1848 - 1907, Cornish, New Hampshire)

Mildred Howells (1873-1966), 1897

Gilded bronze, 7.2 cm (2 13/16 in.) diameter

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Object details

Accession number

S27w15

Object Case

Sargent / Whistler Case

Provenance

Entered Isabella Stewart Gardner's collection after 1897.

Marks

Inscribed, signed and dated (obverse): MILDRED HOWELLS MDCCCXCVII A ST G

Bibliography

Gilbert Wendel Longstreet and Morris Carter. General Catalogue (Boston, 1935), p. 249.
Susan West Day. "Two Medals by Saint-Gaudens." Fenway Court (Aug. 1968), pp. 9-16, ill. 12.
Cornelius C. Vermeule III et al. Sculpture in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston: 1977), pp. 160-61, no. 203.
Susan West Day. "Two Medals by Saint-Gaudens." Fenway Court, vol. 2, no. 2 (Aug. 1968), pp. 9-16.
John Dryfhout. The Work of Augustus Saint-Gaudens (Hanover and London, 1982), pp. 232-33, no. 168.
Emamanuelle Héran. Augustus Saint-Gaudens 1848-1907: Un maître de la sculpture américaine. Exh. cat. (Musée des Augustins, Toulouse, 1999), pp. 184-85, no. 94.
Tanya Karpiak. "The medallic secrets of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum." The Medal (Autumn 2014), pp. 17-18, fig. 6.


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Commentary

Mildred Howells (1873-1966) was a painter, watercolorist, and poet and the daughter of the novelist William Dean Howells (1837-1920). Isabella Stewart Gardner was acquainted with William Dean Howells and collected several of his books for her library. She also clipped articles about him from newspapers including a charming picture of him with his grandchildren.

Isabella and William had many mutual friends including the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. On 2 May 1897 Saint-Gaudens wrote to William Dean Howells suggesting that he and Mildred sit for a portrait. Shortly thereafter, Saint-Gaudens began work in his New York studio creating three separate reliefs including a double portrait and two medallions of Mildred. This medallion, and one other of the same size and subject in a private collection, show Saint-Gaudens's sensitive modelling of Mildred's fine features.

Isabella placed this portrait in the Sargent/Whistler Case in the Long Gallery alongside correspondence from Saint-Gaudens and other contemporary artists in her circle.