Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the most celebrated American sculptor of his day, created Diana as a weathervane for the tower of the first Madison Square Garden in New York, designed by his equally renowned friend and frequent collaborator, Stanford White. The lithe Roman goddess of the hunt, standing on tiptoe as she draws her bow, embodied the festive spirit of a building that was conceived as the "most magnificent amusement palace in the world." Like White's eclectic architecture Saint-Gaudens's graceful young woman referred to the great art of past ages and her presence in the Museum's vast Neoclassical stair hall seems perfectly apt. Her undraped figure was historically correct, but her athletic fitness and elongated proportions were strikingly modern, and her nudity initially provoked indignant comments. Hammered from thin copper sheets for lightness, Diana originally was gilded and had a drapery billowing out behind to catch the wind. Gleaming in sunshine or in electric spotlights--then still a novelty-- Diana on her three-hundred-foot tower was then the highest point in New York City, and she quickly gained respectability as a symbol of the sophistication of the growing metropolis. Darrel Sewell, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 293
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