AUGUSTUS SAINT-GAUDENS (1848–1907)
Dean Sage, about 1904–06
Bronze, 33 3/8 in. diameter
Signed, dated, and inscribed [with a monogram device, center left]: ASG; [in an arc across the top center]: •DEAN •SAGE •AETAT• L V • MDCCCXCVI•
RECORDED: Homer Saint-Gaudens, ed., The Reminiscences of Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1913), “Chronology of the Work of Augustus Saint-Gaudens,” p. 364 (dated 1904) // Buckner Hollingsworth, Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1948), “Works,” p. 63 // C. Lewis Hind, Augustus Saint-Gaudens “His Works: Chronology, p. xlv // John H. Dryfhout, The Work of Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1982), pp. 33, 274 no. 200, 200-1 illus. (mistakenly identified as plaster)
EX. COLL: Sarah Manning (Mrs. Dean) Sage; by descent until 2004
Dean Sage (1841–1904), a lawyer by training, spent his professional life working in the family lumber and land business. His passion, however, was sport, and his enthusiasms included boxing, breeding trotting horses, dogs, and fighting cocks, and above all, fishing. Sage was a noted bibliophile and angler, whose interest was both active and erudite. He was the founder of Camp Harmony (now the Camp Harmony Angling Club) on the Restigouche River in New Brunswick, Canada, writing and privately publishing The Ristigouche and It Salmon Fishing (1888). Sage also created the eponymous Sage fly, a lure with a yellow dubbin body, silver rib, a tail of widgeon, scarlet, green and orange or yellow hackle, and a dark widgeon or mallard wings. He was the author, as well, of articles on fishing that appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Century Magazine, and The Nation.
Sage’s life as an author, sportsman, and bibliophile are reflected in the present portrait medallion. Saint-Gaudens shows Sage seated, with a setter’s head resting firmly on his knee. In his left hand he holds a book. His left forefinger marks the place where he has paused in his reading as he strokes the setter’s head with his right hand. Behind Sage a low bookcase is filled with volumes, an attribute of his life as a book collector. The books and manuscript pages resting on the top of the bookcase can be understood to represent Sage’s own published works, his life as an author.
Following the lead of his father, Henry Sage, who was a major benefactor of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, Dean Sage endowed a series of lectures at Sage Chapel and funded the construction of its altar. He joined with his brother to give the family homes to the University in 1899. Reflecting his father’s youthful attempt to study medicine, Dean Sage paid for the construction of Stimson Hall (1902), which was intended to house a medical school on the Cornell campus.