The Adams Memorial, bronze, 1885 by Augustus
The Adams Memorial is found in a large holly grove in the Rock Creek
Cemetery of Washington, DC. The work was commissioned of sculptor Augustus
Saint Gaudens by Henry Adams, grandson of President John Quincy Adams, shortly
after the suicide of his wife Marion (née Hooper) in 1885. Various
titles have been proposed to express the meaning of the figure, with "Grief"
being the most common today. No official title was ever attributed to the
work by either Saint Gaudens or Henry Adams. Adams himself referred to the
memorial as having meaning and feeling of universality and anonymity and
then called it "The Peace of God that Passeth Understanding."
At another time he wrote to Saint Gaudens to give him the rights to the
drawings and photographs of the statue "with the understanding that
there shall be no such attempt at making it intelligible to the average
mind." Saint Gaudens would have deplored the use of the title "Grief",
as his own son, Homer Saint Gaudens, wrote: "I am certain that my father
never of his own volition stamped the monument with that absolute definition
so often demanded-he meant to ask a question, not to give an answer."
Photos ©Copyright Sean Collins, 1997. All Rights Reserved.
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