Saint-Gaudens: Lincoln Head of State
Continuing on this binge of Lincoln statuary... Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907) made two of them for Chicago -- and this is the second , "Head of State", made in the last years of his life, and not installed until it was discovered, decades later, in a studio in Jackson park.
It's hard to imagine a piece more sombre and sepulchral --- so well deserving the vast, bleak setting that a later architect provided for it -- a fearsome setting that seems only to attract the company of homeless vagrants.
In Chinese mythology, this is the King of Hell -- not necessarily a prince of evil -- but the lord of death -- where nothing moves and changes -- but like dust, it just settles.
He is sitting here forever -- powerful -- but immobile
Is that an American flag draped behind him --- or a shroud ?
Power without joy --- it's hardly an inspiring personal or social ideal -- but it certainly seems as cold, hard, and real as the blue steel barrel of a cannon.
I really admire St. Gaudens the sculptor -- but this is the first -- and last -- time I've spent any time with this statue.
It's just too scary.