bronze sculpture of Diana by Augustus Saint-Gaudens
Bronze sculpture of Diana by Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907)

Recently, an iconic bronze sculpture of Diana by Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907) soared past its estimate of $200-400,000, selling for $506,000 (including BP) at a Keno Auction during “Americana Week.”

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Purchased by a young New York couple, it is the fifth highest price at auction for any work by Saint-Gaudens. Recently discovered by Keno, the sculpture was on display at the Glascow Arms Restaurant in Delaware since its purchase by restaurant owner and collector, Constantine Sclavos in 1959.

Saint-Gaudens produced the original 18-foot tall “Diana of the Tower” as a weathervane for Madison Square Garden. The figure was so popular that the artist wisely secured a copyright of the design in 1895 and immediately began making smaller versions. Leigh Keno, President of Keno Auctions, noted: “I am thrilled but not surprised by the strong result. This discovery is only the seventh example of these larger versions of Diana known. Saint-Gaudens’ brilliant hand is revealed in its meticulously chiseled details.”

The auction was comprised of just five special lots, including the rare and important “Kinsman Portrait of George Washington” painted by Gilbert Stuart (1755-1829), which rose above its $150-300,000 estimate to sell for $356,000 (including BP) to a Southern private collector. The historic portrait had never before been offered at auction.

Painted between 1803 and 1805, when Stuart had moved his studio to Washington, D.C., it had been almost exclusively in private hands, including a century in the Kinsman family since its purchase in 1817 by Philadelphia merchant Israel Kinsman. It is in a remarkable state of preservation, retaining its original stretcher and frame.

Portrait of George Washington
Portrait of George Washington

Keno noted “Like the Diana Bronze, on a scale of one to ten, this masterwork by one of Federal America’s greatest artists rates a ten in terms of quality, rarity, condition and provenance. We are ecstatic but not surprised that it brought such a strong price.”

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