The Society of the Four Arts has added a well-known piece of artwork to its Philip Hulitar Sculpture Garden. “Diana,” a replica of the iconic sculpture by Augustus
Saint-Gaudens, was the gift of longtime supporters and trustees Miranda and Robert Donnelley, who gave the sculpture to honor Nancy Mato for her thirty years of service as Vice President and Curator of The Society of the Four Arts.
The original “Diana” was a famous landmark, commissioned by architect Stanford White to stand atop the tower of Madison Square Garden in 1891. At 18 feet tall and 1,800 pounds, it was decided that the sculpture was too large; it was later removed and shipped to the 1893 World Columbian Expo in Chicago. Months after the exposition closed, a fire broke out and the original was destroyed. Saint-Gaudens then created a second “Diana,” a smaller, more graceful 13-foot version to install atop the tower of Madison Square Garden. This new design became extremely popular and led Saint-Gaudens to create several smaller statuettes in 1899 which are now in the collections of National Gallery of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, New York Historical Society, among other museum and private collections.
In 1925, Madison Square Garden was torn down to make way for the New York Life Building, and in 1932 “Diana” was given to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where it remains today. In 1927, two castings, about half the size of the second “Diana” were commissioned; one now sits in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In 1979 noted gallery owner Peter H. Davis was given the right to commission the casting of six limited edition, seven-foot tall bronze replicas. Three were acquired by private collectors, including the Donnelley family, and the others are now in the collection of Brookgreen Gardens, Princeton University Art Museum, and Madison Square Gardens.
The Four Arts’ sculpture, edition number four of six, stands approximately seven feet tall and is bronze with gold leafing. Restoration work on the leafing began in February 2016 and was completed in late May by West Palm Beach gilder B. Corey Johnson. The Four Arts will appear before the Landmarks Preservation committee on June 13 for final approval before the sculpture is installed later this summer. The Four Arts plans to officially dedicate the sculpture in December 2016.