The Shaw Memorial by Saint-Gaudens
The other day I had the opportunity to view Augustus Saint-Gaudens's Shaw Memorial in it's current state of conservation. The Patina is getting a restoration at Skylight studios in Woburn, MA while the base, made of brick and concrete is under repair due to water damage. The conservators are also addressing issues with water drainage on the bronze itself. It was enlightening to see how much work and craftsmanship as well as the thought process that went into mechanically joining bronze in the 19th century. The last time the back of the bronze was seen was at the installation. It was only a guess of how the bronze was pieced together until now.
The back scene, soldiers and ground was cast in 11 parts. The top half consists of only two parts, the soldiers were divided into six and the ground into three. Shaw's sword and the rifles that are in the round were cast separately. Shaw and the horse were made from several pieces and attached to the back parts as well as the ground. There is a hollow section were the horse joins to the back parts allowing access into the horse. Joining the parts were flanges that were made in the positive prior to investment. They had keyed the flanges so the pieces would line up perfectly and then secured with bronze bolts. (See photo labeled Flange) The Horse's three legs that come into contact with the middle ground section are attached by using roman joints. Again, made in the positive prior to investment a flange was added to the bottom of the horse's hooves and fitted into a hole in the ground section. A second flange is then made around the hole underneath the ground section where the hoof flanges would be inserted. A bronze pin is then inserted through both flanges to secure them into place. (See photo labeled Roman Joint) From my understanding the top two sections were sand casted and I'd imagine the 3 ground pieces were as well. The rest was done using the lost wax method. The line illustration shows approximately where the parts were separated.
Shaw Memorial cast sections display
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