This weekend, a friend and I took advantage of a leisurely summer afternoon to make a visit to Augustus St. Gaudens’ home and studios in Cornish, New Hampshire, a National Historic Site about 45 minutes’ drive from the Chesterfield Inn. We spent 3 hours there, wandering the property, touring the house, visiting his studio, and enjoying many pieces of his work. We started the day with a 20 minute film at the Visitor’s center , that gave us an overview of his life and the site. Augustus Saint Gaudens was one of America’s greatest sculptors and created many heroic monuments and bas-reliefs. Later in his life, he was one of the founders of the Cornish Colony, a group of artists and writers living in Cornish.
The views from the porch of the house were expansive, with rolling meadows, gardens, statues, and Mount Ascutney looming on the horizon. The gardens were designed to showcase the art work, and formed several rooms so that the works could be viewed in seclusion. The flowers were just gorgeous, in the gardens and in arrangements in the buildings; it seemed that the whole place smelled of roses!
This building housed many of Saint Gaudens’ bas-reliefs, as well as his studio, where our guide was kind enough to explain the process of bronzing, using objects such as molds and plaster casts from the studio to explain exactly how it was done.
We sat on the porch with our guide before touring the house and heard the story of Saint Gaudens’s life at Aspet, his name for the summer house that became his year round home towards the end of his life. The house is furnished with original furniture from the time that he and his family lived there. All in all it was a fascinating place to visit, with history and nature intertwined with art. A perfect summer outing while staying at our New Hampshire bed and breakfast!