About Me

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Spofford, New Hampshire, United States
Jeff Newcomer has been a physician practicing in New Hampshire and Vermont for over 30 years. Over that time, as a member of the Conservation Commission in his home of Chesterfield New Hampshire, he has used his photography to promote the protection and appreciation of the town's wild lands. In recent years he has been transitioning his focus from medicine to photography, writing and teaching. Jeff enjoys photographing throughout New England, but has concentrated on the Monadnock Region and southern Vermont and has had a long term artistic relationship with Mount Monadnock. He is a featured artist in a number of local galleries and his work is often seen in regional print, web publications and in business installations throughout the country. For years Jeff has published a calendar celebrating the beauty of The New England country-side in all seasons. All of the proceeds from his New England Reflections Calendar have gone to support the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at the Cheshire Medical Center. Jeff has a strong commitment to sharing his excitement about the special beauty of our region and publishes a weekly blog about photography in New England.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Saint Gaudens' Retreat



The Thornless Honey Locust in front off Aspet House has continued to thrive
since its planting in 1886, just one year after Saint-Gaudens first summered here.




August Saint-Gaudens
Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907) was a renown 19th century sculptor who was a leader in the renaissance of American art of that time. He was born in Ireland, raised in New York City and received his early artistic training in Europe. He is most widely known for his monumental sculptures, but also created delicate cameos. Many of his statues celebrate the heroes of the civil war and can still be seen decorating parks and other public places throughout the country. His “double Eagle” gold piece is felt to be the most beautiful American coin ever struck. Later in his life Saint-Gaudens spent much of his time at his retreat along the Connecticut River in Cornish New Hampshire. Here a distinguish group of American artists gathered, forming what became known as the “Cornish Colony”. Included among this group was Maxfield Parish, whose intensely romantic New England landscape paintings have been a strong influence on my photographic vision.




Amor Caritas
in the Atrium
After Saint Gaudens death in 1907 his estate was preserved as a National Historical site managed by the National Park Service. The park includes acres of beautiful gardens which are decorated with examples of some of Saint Gaudens' most famous works. Over 100 pieces of his sculpture are housed in a number of galleries which had been his work shops.. The artist’s home, “Aspect House” sits on a knoll overlooking Mount Ascutney. The peak, which is across the river in Vermont, was considered by Saint Gaudens to be his “Mt. Olympus" and he placed his building to take maximum of advantage of this vista. 



Mount Ascutney from the "Little Studio"





The Faragate
Cornish is only one hour north of our house, so it is surprising that my first visit to the site was just a couple of weeks ago. Sue and I traveled up along the river late in the afternoon of an unusually warm spring day and found the estate to nearly deserted. It was marvelous to wander undisturbed among the gardens and galleries. The soft afternoon light played beautifully off the sculptures, changing their appearance from moment to moment as the sun settled toward the Vermont hills. 

  











The Shaw Memorial
Some of the most affecting pieces included the triumphant Robert

Shaw Memorial
Gould Shaw Memorial, the Standing Lincoln and the deeply introspective Adams Memorial. All of these works still stand in their original locations throughout the country, but it is amazing how fully, and beautifully, realized are the “copies” that Saint Gaudens created and that now grace the gardens and galleries in Cornish.  Of all the works, New Englanders may be most familiar
with the Shaw Memorial which stands at the edge of Boston Common just across the street from the Massachusetts State House. Shaw was the commander of the all black 54th Massachusetts
54th Massachusetts
Infantry Regiment in the Civil War, and was killed, in July 1863, at the battle of Fort Wagner in South Carolina. The monument is a striking relief featuring Shaw on Horseback, but it is perhaps most notable for the strong, determined faces of the black soldiers marching to their fate. At a time when blacks were often represented in unflattering stereotypes, Saint-Guadens modeled about 40 portrait heads in clay before settling on the 16 that best portrayed the strength and humanity of his subjects. 




The Adams Memorial
The Adams Memorial is a much different piece of funereal art. It is

Adams Memorial
a contemplative, shrouded figure memorializing the wife of the historian Henry Adams. Adams was a member of the Adams political family and the great grandson of John Adams. His wife Marian suffered from depression and died by suicide. Adams disliked labels, and bristled when observers tried to name the sculpture “Grief”. He preferred that the work be seen as asking a question, not giving answers. The sculpture in Cornish sits in a quiet, isolated garden alcove. A marvelous aspect of sculpture in natural light is that the viewing experience can change depending on the angle and quality of the light. When I first saw the Adams memorial, the light was stark and flat, but later in the evening its features were better define and glowed in the evening illumination, and the shadows from the surrounding foliage poetically framed the figure. 



Birch Allee
Study of
Gen William Tecumseh Sherman



The Puritan
Aspet Iris



Diana in the
Little Studio
I could go on about the many remarkable pieces at Saint-Gaudens, each has its own story, but I would rather let the images speak and encourage you to find the time to come by.  Saint Gaudens' work has a power and presence that can only be fully appreciated in person. It is well worth the trip, but be sure that you give yourself enough time to quietly linger and contemplate. Contemplation is what Saint-Gaudens’ country retreat is all about. 






Diana in the Little Studio


The grounds of The Saint Gaudens Historic Site are accessible year round, but the exhibit buildings are open only from the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend to October 31 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and the grounds until dusk. For more information, check out the park web site. The site includes a very helpful IPad App, which describes most of the attractions and provides a virtual tour of the grounds and galleries. 



Little Studio

http://www.nps.gov/saga/index.htm



3 comments:

  1. Hey Jeff. Great series. I love that place. The light in that veranda shot is just fab. But I think the tree is a honey locust, not a honey suckle. : )

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    1. Thanks Kris. You are correct. I misread the ID. Great place. Next time I think I will go up there just to find a quiet corner and read, and maybe write a blog.

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  2. Thia blog really resonates with me. I read about Saint Gaudens in David McCullough's recent book, "The Greater Journey". Since then, I've sought out his work at the MFA in Boston, the Metropolitan Museum in NY, the Currier Gallery in NH, and at the various public parks in NYC where his work is seen. (Just there again earlier this week.) Visiting his home/studio in Cornish is definitely on my to-do list. i'll let you know when I actually get around to coming. (Perhaps I'll put together a collection of photos i've taken of his work.) Thanks again for the informative blog.

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