AN UNEXPECTED RENDEZVOUS AT THE COSMOS CLUB ON LAFAYETTE SQUARE

DANIEL B. KRINSLEY

The Strange Odyssey of the Pirated Copy of the Adams Memorial by Saint Gaudens


Henry Adams [photo]

Two years ago, I wandered into the courtyard behind the buildings of the old Cosmos Club at Lafayette Square and was startled to see a copy of the Adams Memorial. As a member of the Cosmos Club, steeped in the history of the Club and its relationship to the events and personalities embodied in that figure, I marvelled at the brilliance of its installation.

Henry Adams, a founding member of the Cosmos Club, had commissioned the original sculpture from Augustus Saint Gaudens as a gravesite memorial to his wife, who had committed suicide in 1885. The resultant memorial is considered Saint Gaudens’s masterpiece. After this tragedy, Adams sought solace and emotional support from Elizabeth Cameron, an admirer and confidante. Their extensive correspondence, initiated prior to his wife’s death, continued over a period of thirty–five years and reads as a remarkable testament to courtly love.

The remarkable journey of this artifact of these events and relationships to the site of its origins can be documented as serendipitous. However, the romantic might suggest that the spirits of the principals involved were drawn together in a ghostly return to Lafayette Square.

Figure 1

CLOVER ADAMS

Tintype of Marion Hooper [photo]On Sunday morning, December 6, 1885, after a late breakfast at their home, 1607 H Street (Figure 1, A) on Lafayette Square, Marian Hooper Adams, known in her circle as Clover, went to her room. Her husband, Henry Adams, troubled by a toothache, had planned to see his dentist. While departing his home, he was met by a woman calling to see his wife. Adams went upstairs to her room to ask if she would receive the visitor and found his wife lying on a rug before the fire. An opened vial of potassium cyanide lay nearby. Clover had frequently used this poisonous chemical in the processing of her photographs. Adams carried his wife to a sofa, then ran for a doctor. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Charles E. Hagner pronounced Clover dead.1

There has been much speculation and numerous theories concerning the causes of Clover Adams’s suicide. These include a family history of mental depression and suicide, a sense of frustration and unfulfillment as a cultured person and as a woman, a feeling of intellectual inferi over her husband’s interest and attention to another woman. The validity of any or all of these causes was sharpened by Henry Adams’ destruction of most of Clover’s letters and photos made by her, following her death.2 In addition, silence about his wife after her suicide and the conspicuous absence of any reference to her in his autobiography, “The Education of Henry Adams,” further contributed to an atmosphere of suspicion and mystery.

Clover was five when her mother died of tuberculosis. Her subsequent affection for and attachment to her father, Dr. Robert Hooper, remained throughout her marriage. During their first long separation, when Clover was on her honeymoon in 1872 along the Nile, she apparently suffered a brief nervous breakdown.3 The death of her father on April 13, 1885, initiated a period of mourning which evolved into mental depression from which she did not recover.4 Both Clover’s mother, Ellen Sturgis Hooper, and Grandmother Sturgis had a tendency toward depression. As a child, Clover was present when her aunt, Susan Sturgis Bigelow, had taken arsenic that ended her life and that of her unborn child.5

Two years after Clover’s suicide, her sister Ellen, anguishing over the death of her husband, walked into an oncoming train. Her brother Edward suffered a nervous breakdown for six weeks as a result of that tragedy,6 and in 1901 he leaped from the third floor of his home, survived briefly, but died two months later of pneumonia in an asylum.7

It is pertinent to note that Henry Adams’s oldest brother Charles reportedly said to him when learning of his brother’s intended betrothal, “Heavens!—no— they’re all crazy as coots. She’ll kill herself just like her aunt!”8 And Henry was certainly aware of the family history of his intended when he wrote his brother Brooks, “I know better than anyone the risks I run. But I have weighed them carefully and accept them”.8b

As girls, Clover and Ellen had accompanied their father on his charitable professional visits to Worcester Asylum for the mentally ill, so they were aware of the terrors that lay within those walls. In subsequent letters, they revealed their vulnerabilities and fears of confinement in these institutions.9 Clover’s letters also make it clear that she regarded suicide as preferable to becoming a burden for family or friends, and confinement would be avoided. She had once remarked on learning of the suicide of William Morris Hunt, who had painted a portrait of Henry’s father, “He has put an end to his wild, restless, unhappy life. Perhaps it has saved him years of insanity which his temperament pointed to.”10

Clover Hooper had had the advantages of wealth, social position and intense intellectual stimulation. Her mother and her aunt had poems published in The Dial, the journal of Transcendentalism, and were articulate feminists.11 These models and mentors gave voice and argument to the thesis that women were the intellectual equals of men. And around the hearth of Dr. Hooper’s home, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Henry James exchanged ideas. In this atmosphere of erudition and learning, there would seem to be no limits for her education and development. However, she could not follow her brother Edward to Harvard nor to any other college; at that time, women were not admitted.

Clover’s later feelings of educational inadequacy were not ameliorated by her husband. In a letter to Charles Milnes Gaskell, he wrote, “She desires me to say to you that—all I said about her accomplishments is a lie—In fact it is rather droll to examine women’s minds. They are a queer mixture of odds and ends, poorly mastered and utterly unconnected— My young female has a very active and quick mind and has run over many things, but she really knows nothing well, and laughs at the idea of being thought a blue [bluestocking, i.e., intellectual]. She commissions me to tell you that she would add a few lines to this letter, but unfortunately she is unable to spell.”12 In a letter to her father on February 5, 1882, she confided that her educational experiences were deficient, “though excellent exercises in themselves, are as useless in the sea of real life as a dory without oars.”13

Her feeling of inadequacy is reflected in a letter to her father on May 14, 1882, in which she cites Henry James’s intended compliment to her, “I seemed to him, ‘the incarnation of my native land’ a most equivocal compliment coming from him. Am I then vulgar, dreary, and impossible to live with.”14

While her husband established his reputation as a prominent writer and historian, Clover developed her ability as a talented portrait photographer of her family and the notables of her circle. In December 1884, her photograph of George Bancroft, an eminent historian, was requested for publication in the Century Magazine to be accompanied by a short article about Bancroft by Henry Adams.15 It was a perfect opportunity for Adams to show pride and support and to share his wife’s pleasure at being recognized for her accomplishment at a professional level. He rejected the proposal, ostensibly because it might have encouraged or offended others not so featured. Clover calmly reported the incident to her father without comment, as an obedient wife. But, one can imagine the disappointment and frustration that Clover felt at being denied a larger cultured audience and the prospects of wider recognition of her skills.

As the scions of two prominent Brahmin families, the absence of children was keenly felt by the Adamses. Regardless of who was responsible, the infertility was a further source of guilt and inadequacy for Clover. She is reported to have exclaimed to her cousin Ann Lothrop, “If any woman ever says to you that she doesn’t want children, it isn’t true. All women want children.”16 Two days before her suicide, Clover visited Elizabeth Cameron, a friend of the Adamses, who was reportedly ill but actually three months pregnant. It has been suggested that Clover’s sudden realization of this young woman’s impending maternity and her own barrenness further exacerbated her deep depression.17

Before their marriage, Henry Adams had written to his friend, Charles Milnes Gaskell, on March 26, 1872, “She is not handsome, nor would she be called quite plain.” On May 30, 1872, he wrote, “She is certainly not beautiful, and her features are much too prominent.”18 Though Clover was an accomplished photographer, no close–up picture of her face exists.19 After her death, Adams destroyed all of her photos at their home, and neither her father nor her family had ever received a picture of Clover’s face. It seems evident that she did not think the subject suitable for imaging. The photo shown here is the only known adult portrait of Clover, courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

LIZZIE CAMERON

Henry Adams first met Elizabeth Cameron in January 1881 at a reception in the drawing room of the house of John and Clara Hay.20 She had been Lizzie Sherman, the daughter of Judge Charles Sherman of Ohio, the niece of Secretary of the Treasury John Sherman in Hayes’ cabinet and the niece of General William Tecumseh Sherman. Her family had pressured her into a loveless marriage, but brokered a prenuptial agreement with Senator Donald Cameron which provided her with the income from $160,000 worth of securities, a very large amount in 1878. 21 The arranged marriage on May 9, 1878, united the reluctant 20–year–old beauty with a 44–year–old widower with six children. Eliza, his eldest, who had served as her father’s hostess, was now displaced by a stepmother the same age.22 The children never accepted her. The marriage was further strained by the Senator’s coarseness and indifference and his fondness for bourbon.

Henry Adams initiated a correspondence with Lizzie on May 19, 1883, when she and her husband departed for Europe. That letter reflected his unhappiness with her departure and his longing for her return.23 It was the first of hundreds to follow for the next 35 years. They would record a passionate yet unconsummated relationship. On December 7, 1884, one year before Clover’s suicide, Henry Adams wrote to Lizzie, “I shall dedicate my next poem to you. I shall have you carved over the arch of my stone doorway. I shall publish your volume of extracts with your portrait on the title page. None of these methods can fully express the extent to which I am yours.”24

Clover, who had written a weekly letter to her father throughout her marriage except for the brief hiatus during her breakdown along the Nile, never mentioned concerns or suspicions about Henry’s relationship with Lizzie. There is nothing in the letters of her family or circle of friends to indicate her distrust or unhappiness with her husband in this matter. Indeed, after her death, Henry found a letter from Clover to her sister Ellen which had not been posted. The survival of this letter was assured by its contents which read, “If I had one single point of character or goodness, I would stand on that and grow back to life. Henry is more patient and loving than words can express—God might envy him— he bears and hopes and despairs hour after hour—Henry is beyond all words tenderer and better than all of you even.”25

Elizabeth Cameron [photo]It is difficult to believe that the sharp–witted and keenly perceptive Clover could have failed to detect the extent and depth of Henry’s feelings for Lizzie. It seems more likely that her fierce New England pride would not allow her to acknowledge the obvious, let alone confront her husband or share her concerns with anyone. When her fatal decision was made, she had reached back into the shadows of her family’s history and exercised her right to free herself of the demons that pursued her. The desire for expression and recognition that she had shared with her mother and her aunt, which she had sought in life, was realized in death as her last lines became almost as frequently quoted and well known as any composed by Henry Adams.

Henry, his brother, Charles Francis Adams, Clover’s brother Edward, and her sister Ellen, with her husband Ephraim Gurney, were the attendees at a brief funeral service held on December 9, 1885, at the house on Lafayette Square. Interment services followed at Rock Creek Cemetery but the actual burial was postponed until December 11, 1885, because of the inclement weather.26 A few weeks later Adams ordered a modest head stone as a temporary marker.27

On Christmas Day, Adams sent Lizzie one of Clover’s favorite pieces of jewelry requesting that she “sometimes wear it, to remind you of her.” Just before the end of the year, he moved into his newly completed mansion next door at 1603 H Street (Figure 1, B) designed by his old friend, Henry Hobson Richardson, one of the most prominent architects of his day.28

After several weeks of depression, mingled with feelings of guilt and remorse, Adams slowly resumed his writing and cautiously renewed social activities. Several months later, to separate himself from the scene of his sadness and to heal his emotional wounds, he decided to take a trip to Japan. He invited John La Farge, a painter and friend from his Harvard days, to be his guest.

Following the birth of her daughter Martha on June 25, 1886, Lizzie Cameron moved from her rented house on 19th Street to the historic Ogle Tayloe House at Lafayette Square (Figure 1, C) which Senator Cameron had purchased from the Tayloe family.29 Lizzie, who occupied the house intermittently during the next 23 years, became a glittering hostess and Henry Adams a frequent guest. It was leased to Vice President Garret A. Hobart from March 1897 to November 1899, and then to Senator Marcus Alonzo Hanna from 1900 to 1902. During his occupancy it became known as the “Little White House” and received Presidents McKinley and Roosevelt as regular visitors.

After the marriage there of Martha to a British diplomat, Ronald Lindsay, on March 18, 1909, Lizzie gave up the house and would never return. She moved to Paris and later to England where she continued a generally distant and unhappy relationship with her husband until his death in 1918. She died on August 17, 1944, at her home in Dorset, England. Her cremated remains were buried there in the grave of Martha, who had predeceased her 26 years before.30

THE ADAMS MEMORIAL BY SAINT GAUDENS

Augustus Saint Gaudens [painting]On June 3, 1886, Adams spent the day with Clarence King and Augustus Saint Gaudens in New York at which time he may have first mentioned his plan for a memorial to his wife at Rock Creek Cemetery. Later in the day, he and La Farge entrained on a private railroad car of the Union Pacific, courtesy of his brother Charles, president of the railroad.31 After three months of education, contemplation and absorption of a new culture, art and philosophy, the travelers returned.

The conceptualization of the Adams Memorial evolved from September 11, 1887, when in a letter to Adams, Saint Gaudens referred to “some sketches,” to January 1888 during a visit by Adams to Saint Gaudens’s studio in New York.32 The work on the monument began in November 1888 and would eventually cost $20,000 of which $7,000 was required for Stanford White’s stone seat, an upright stone, behind the bronze figure, and platform within his elegant architectural setting which included a stone bench for viewers.33 The process of creativity went slowly as Saint Gaudens grappled with his client’s desires and his own inspiration.

In August 1890, Adams traveled to the South Seas with La Farge, again his guest. The major decisions concerning the casting, stone cutting and finishing had been settled but the monument wasn’t completed and installed until March 1891.

Although Adams had received photographs of the installed monument from Lizzie and later from Saint Gaudens, it wasn’t until mid–February 1892, after his return from the South Seas, that he visited Rock Creek Cemetery and sat before his Adams Memorial.34 Twenty–six years later, he would rest beneath it with Clover.

The seated bronze figure in a contemplative pose, its right hand touching its chin, is enveloped in a cowled garment from head to foot. The face is strong with a straight nose, full lips and a firm chin. The closed eyes prevent any inner scrutiny but invite speculation. Shadows cast by the shifting light across the edges of the cowl afford the only semblance of change to this otherwise impassive visage. No aspect of pose or form suggests its sex.

The statue and its gray granite seat rest upon a polished pink granite base. A larger vertical block of the same granite forms a backdrop. The bronze figure bears no authorship nor foundry mark. The granite base and vertical block behind the figure have no inscriptions. The sculpture and base occupy one side of the monument’s six–sided design, which is 20 feet across. Facing the monument is a long pink granite bench that takes up three sides of the designed space.35

Thousands visited the memorial after its completion and pondered its symbolism and its meaning and suggested their interpretations and possible titles. A June 1897 article in the Century Magazine approved by Adams to accompany a full–page photograph of the sculpture read, “The mysterious figure which has been called ‘The Peace of God’ in the Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, is one of the first of his [Saint Gaudens] works in the round produced in this period, and one of the most original and beautiful of his conceptions.”36

Head of the Adams Memorial in Rock Creek Cemetery

THE COSMOS CLUB AT LAFAYETTE SQUARE

The Cosmos Club, of which Henry Adams was a Founder, had first moved to Lafayette Square in December 1882. It leased the Robert G. Ingersoll House (Figure 1, D), adjacent to the north wall of the Ogle Tayloe House, then purchased it in 1907. The adjacent William Windom House (Figure 1, E), was leased by the Club in 1904, then purchased in 1906. Both houses were razed in 1909 for a new Club building completed in 1910. The Dolley Madison House (Figure 1, F) at the northeast corner of Lafayette Square was purchased by the Club in June 1886. On November 30, 1917, the Cosmos Club purchased the Ogle Tayloe House from Senator Cameron for $250,000. He had purchased it in 1886 for $60,000, the same price that had been offered to the Club in 1885, but they could not raise the sufficient funds at that time.37 The Cosmos Club then occupied all three buildings until 1952, when it moved to its present quarters in the Townsend Mansion. Across the Square from the old Cosmos Club was the home of William L. Scott (Figure 1, G), who had purchased the house in 1888. Upon his death in 1891 it was inherited by his daughter, Mary Scott Townsend, who lived there from 1892 until her mansion was completed in 1901. During the renovation of the White House in 1902, it briefly served as the residence of President Theodore Roosevelt and his family.38

THE PAUSCH COPY OF THE ADAMS MEMORIAL

In October 1906, General Felix Agnus, a Civil War hero and the publisher of the Baltimore American newspaper, ordered a replica of the Adams Memorial from the John Salter and Son Company for $3,900. He had been led to believe from the Salters that they had the authority to sell one copy of the Adams Memorial to each of the principal cities of the country. The Salters hired Eduard L. A. Pausch, an obscure Danish–born sculptor, to produce the figure. Although an initial assessment might suggest a copy cast from the original mold, distortions in parts of the figure and greater coarseness in the details confirm that Pausch made measurements, sketches, drawings and probably utilized photographs from the Adams Memorial. The Pausch copy was installed at the Agnus family plot in Druid Ridge Cemetery near Baltimore in October 1907.39

Mrs. Saint Gaudens, who had been widowed on August 3, 1907, informed Adams by letter in November 1908 of the Pausch copy and then had her lawyer, Charles O. Brewster, attempt to persuade Agnus to remove the copy. Initially Agnus proposed that, in exchange for an authorized replica, he would permit Brewster to sue Salter in his name. This proposal was rejected largely as a result of reluctance on the part of Adams.

Brewster then initiated a campaign of public displeasure against Agnus through the newspapers. This reached a crescendo in February 1909 with the outrage and indignation of sculptors Daniel Chester French and Karl Bitter.40

Etching of the Dolley Madison

A year later in February 1910, Agnus agreed to waive any claim to a replica and authorized Brewster to sue Salter for $5,000 in his name but at Brewster’s expense. A judgement against Salter for $4,531 was returned by a court in New London, Connecticut, on June 30, 1910. Although Agnus stubbornly refused to remove the statue, Adams and Mrs. Saint Gaudens, who had apparently concluded that the General and his statue had received sufficient ridicule and ostracism, embarked on a policy of silence. Agnus and his wife were buried in front of his monument in the 1920’s.41

After the death of Agnus, the statue, which became known as the “Black Aggie,” became the focus of occult legends, a site for pranks and adolescent initiations and a target for graffiti and vandalism. A tin worker cut off the figure’s right hand with a hacksaw in 1962. A lenient judge merely ordered the culprit to pay for the figure’s repair. In desperation, the cemetery officials finally asked the Agnus descendants in early 1966 to remove the statue.42 The Adams Memorial in Rock Creek Cemetery by comparison has never been disturbed nor defaced.

The Agnus family first offered the figure to the Maryland Institute of Arts. Then at an exhibits committee meeting in November 1966, Adelyn Breeskin, previous Director of the Baltimore Museum of Art, told Richard P. Wunder, Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the National Collection of Fine Arts (NCFA), which became the current National Museum of American Art (NMAA) on October 13, 1980, of the availability of the statue.43 She believed that it was a “pirated version” made from the original plaster cast. Wunder visited Mrs. Felix Agnus Leser, widow of the General’s grandson, in March 1967 at which time she agreed to transfer the figure to the NCFA. In his subsequent letter to her of March 13, 1967, Wunder registered delight at the prospect of receiving what he believed to be a “secret” version cast from the original mold, and asked for additional information concerning recommended movers and more data that would assist in the proper documentation and cataloguing.44

On March 17, 1967, Mrs. Leser recommended Rullman and Wilson, Inc., of Baltimore as the movers and informed Wunder that she and her husband’s sister had signed releases authorizing the cemetery to allow Mr. Rullman to remove the statue. She further stated that, on the basis of the interment of his mother, the Agnus casting was ordered about 1905, which was considerably later than the original.45 In response to a March 15, 1967, letter from Wunder, John H. Dryfhout, Curator of the Saint Gaudens National Historic Site, referred to “an infamous copy of the Rock Creek figure now in Baltimore” and quoting from a preliminary draft of Homer Saint Gaudens’s Reminiscences, “A man named Felix Agnus of the Baltimore Star—immediately upon my father’s death took advantage—and ordered a gross and ill modeled copy of the work to be set up in his own lot in Druid Ridge Cemetery in Baltimore.”46

In spite of this clear alert about its suspicious origin, the Pausch copy was removed from its stone platform at the Druid Ridge Cemetery and delivered to the NCFA on June 15, 1967, at a cost of $285. The desires of Henry Adams and Mrs. Saint Gaudens to remove the statue from the cemetery had been realized. The receipt to Mrs. Leser issued on June 16, 1967 described the item as “Grief, by Augustus Saint Gaudens.”47 Still unconvinced by Mrs. Leser’s research on July 19, 1967, at the Pratt Library, revealing the Agnus–Salter litigation over the unauthorized copy, Wunder, in his letter to Mrs. Leser on July 25, referred to the “Saint Gaudens piece” and suggested an appraisal value for tax purposes of $15,000 to $20,000. 48

In his detailed letter of March 23, 1967, to Wunder, Dryfhout recounted the history of the 1908 plaster cast made from the Adams Memorial for the Saint Gaudens exhibitions of 1908 and 1909. Wunder shared the letter with Michael T. Richman, a Visiting Research Assistant, who was asked by Wunder to pursue the origin of the “replica.” In his letter of August 18, 1967, to Dryfhout, Richman referred to the latter’s letter, yet reported his subsequent discovery of the plaster cast made for the Saint Gaudens exhibition of 1908. Richman, unaware that the Pausch copy was installed in October 1907, speculated that the 1908 mold could have been used to make an unauthorized copy.49

Finally, after receiving a letter from Dryfhout dated October 3, 1967, which quoted the New York Tribune of February 5, 1909, “The model sent to them [Bureau Brothers, casters in bronze] for the purpose was made it seems, by Mr. Eduard L. A. Pausch, a figure and architectural sculptor,” Wunder was convinced that their gift from Mrs. Leser had no Saint Gaudens pedigree. 50 The Pausch copy, which had eluded its tormentors at Druid Ridge Cemetery, was consigned to outdoor storage within the moat of the NCFA fronting on H Street. It appeared that the figure’s newfound security was to be accompanied by oblivion.

While the Pausch drama was unfolding, the original sculpture was receiving new attention. The Saint Gaudens Memorial Association of Cornish, New Hampshire, with the approval of the heirs of Henry Adams, commissioned a plaster piece mold to be made of the bronze memorial in Rock Creek Cemetery. The mold was made during the week of October 10–14, 1966, by Caesere Contini and his brother under the supervision of Mr. Lewis Iselin, a sculptor. The bronze was then cleaned and repatined by the Roman Bronze Works, Inc. of Corona, New York.51

One year after the completion of the mold and before a bronze had been cast, Wunder met with Iselin and indicated the desire of the Director of the NCFA, Dr. David W. Scott, to have a casting made from the mold for the NCFA. Iselin was asked to receive permission from the Adams family and to supervise the cutting of a granite base which would render the “replica more true to the original concept.”52 In January 1968, the Saint Gaudens Memorial Association engaged the Roman Bronze Works, Inc., to cast two bronzes from the mold made at Rock Creek Cemetery in October 1966, one replica for the Association at Cornish, and the other for the NCFA.53 These were the first authorized bronze copies to be made of the Adams Memorial.

RESCUE FROM OBLIVION

Twenty years later, during the first week in March 1987, Mr. Terence C. Golden, the Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA), and a friend were jogging at noontime in front of the NMAA on G Street. His friend asked Golden whether he was aware of the “bootlegged copy” of the Adams figure and if not whether Golden was interested in seeing it. Golden had not seen it previously and the two men then inspected the figure in the moat. Golden was aware of the Adams Memorial and of Henry Adams’s association with Lafayette Square.54

By Friday, March 6, Golden told Marilyn Farley, a member of the Art and Architecture Program of GSA, of his discovery and interest in the figure. She responded the same day that the NMAA and GSA “might work together and I will hear back from them next week.”55 Farley met with the NMAA staff on March 12, 1987, and learned that the Pausch copy would require about $5,000 worth of restoration. The NMAA was planning to deaccession the figure and, following their guidelines, would inquire if any other Smithsonian Museums were interested in acquiring it. The final disposition of the Pausch copy would be made at the meeting of the Commission of the NMAA on May 7, 1987.56 In a letter dated April 23, 1987, from Golden to Dr. Charles C. Eldridge, Director, NMAA, Golden officially expressed his interest in acquiring the figure, alluded to a “location in mind” for it, and requested “knowing by July 1, 1987” the decision of the Commission.57

The location that Golden had in mind was in either one of the two Blair House gardens whose suitability for the Pausch copy was being considered by Clement Conger, the Curator of the State Department, which administered Blair House, and Mrs. Archibald Roosevelt, a member of the Fine Arts Commission.58

In preparation for the May 7 meeting of the Commission of the NMAA, and in order to present several options concerning any possible disposition of the Pausch copy, George Gurney, Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture at the NMAA, invited appraisals of the figure’s value. Christie’s suggested $10,000–15,000, and Sotheby’s $5,000–15,000. 59

Dr. Eldridge informed Golden on May 14, 1987, that the NMAA Commission had approved the deaccession of the Pausch copy and its transfer to GSA pending the possible interest of any other Smithsonian Museum in obtaining the figure. Golden was to be notified by mid–June if there was another interest in the sculpture.60

George Gurney called Marilyn Farley on or just prior to June 26, 1987, to inform her that no Smithsonian Museum wanted the Pausch copy. She “reported that the ‘Garden Committee’ for Blair House had felt that there was not enough room in the garden (the larger of the two gardens) and therefore had decided against placing the sculpture there.” However, a new site under consideration was among the group of government buildings on the other side of Lafayette Park. In any case, GSA would take the Pausch copy.61

Dr. Eldridge wrote to Mrs. Leser on October 2, 1987, of the Commission’s decision to transfer the Pausch copy to the GSA which would place it in “a government–owned space where it might be seen and yet protected.” He assured her that the sculpture would be conserved and that her name “as donor of the Agnus Memorial will be used with the work in its new location.”62 Mrs. Leser responded with her approval and wrote, “Now the lovely figure can come out again into the light and I have to thank you for it.”63

A Memorandum to Golden covering the transfer of the Agnus Memorial Bronze Sculpture to GSA and requiring his signature of acceptance was mailed with a cover letter by Eldridge on October 7, 1986. In the Memorandum, NMAA stipulated that a label of appropriate material would be attached to the base of the sculpture at all times, and the label would read:

Eduard L.A. Pausch (After Augustus Saint Gaudens) Agnus Memorial (after the Adams Memorial) ca. 1906–1907 Transfer from the National Museum of American Art: Gift of Mrs. Felix A. Leser.

GSA was required to remove the sculpture at its expense by December 1, 1987, otherwise the Memorandum would become null and void. Future transfer, sale or other disposal would require notice to the NMAA director, and the use of the proceeds (if any) from the disposal would be determined in consultation with the NMAA Director who might reserve them for future acquisitions for the NMAA collection.64

THE END OF A STRANGE ODYSSEY

Golden mailed a signed copy of the Memorandum to Eldridge on November 25, 1987, and informed him that the site selected Madison Place for the sculpture was in the garden adjoining the Dolley Madison and Ogle Tayloe Houses.65

Like the initial choice of the Blair House Gardens, the second choice, the courtyard behind the Dolley Madison House, was made on the basis of its available space and its proximity to Lafayette Square. In a note to Golden on November 23, 1987, GSA’s Farley wrote, “I have contacted the Fine Arts Commission (Charlie Atherton). He sees no problem with locating the sculpture there—thinks it’s a good idea.” And on December 18, she wrote to Golden, “I have heard from Carter Brown’s Assistant that he [J. Carter Brown, Chairman of the Fine Arts Commission] has no problem with the “Grief” sculpture in the Dolley Madison Courtyard.”66 The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit now occupies the connected buildings of the old Cosmos Club with its adjacent courtyard. The Judges of that Court were briefed by GSA in May 1988 about the intended transfer of the figure to the courtyard, and approved its installation.

A problem arose concerning the weight of the intended base for the figure. The initially proposed base was so heavy it would have required expensive structural changes to the foundation of the courtyard. A lighter base not requiring any structural changes to the foundation was ordered in May 1988 and emplaced in time for the transfer and installation of the Pausch copy from the moat of the NMAA to the courtyard adjacent to the Old Cosmos Club (Figure 2) on November 30, 1988.67 The sculpture, which had been neglected for almost three decades, was cleaned in May 1989.68

Figure 2

The twice–rejected sculpture had found quietude at last in a lovely sheltered courtyard close to the sites of Clover’s suicide and Henry Adams’s long and final residence. The bronze plaque attached to the base of the figure, as stipulated in the NMAA Memorandum, had an additional sentence inserted by GSA. It reads, “Transfer to the United States General Services Administration, 1987, from the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.” The casual courtyard visitor is offered no explanation of the relationship between the figure and the names of the individuals and organizations inscribed in bronze. That anonymity at least would have pleased Henry Adams.

The cowled figure at the north end of the courtyard faces south. Behind it and to its immediate right side are the connected buildings of the old Cosmos Club where Henry Adams had met with its distinguished members to exchange ideas. In life, Clover Adams might have closed her eyes to the relationship between her husband and Lizzie Cameron. As glyptic art imitating life, the figure faces toward the Ogle Tayloe House, its eyes closed. It was in that house that Lizzie Cameron had lived and where Henry Adams had visited his great love.

The Pausch copy of the Saint Gaudens Memorial

There is no more fitting and ironic place for this figure than its current location, yet its strange odyssey, documented above as serendipitous, tempts one to believe that the spirits of this Gilded Age drama have been drawn inexorably together to their familiar haunts in a ghostly return to Lafayette Square.

Acknowledgements: I am most appreciative of the courtesy and assistance that I have received from Gregory C. Schwarz of the Saint Gaudens National Historic Site, George Gurney and Lenore Fein of the National Museum of American Art, Andrea Mones, Marilyn Farley and Susan Bracey of the General Services Administration, Tony Wrenn of the American Institute of Architects, and Lura Young of the Cosmos Club.

My special thanks to Joann Wilkes whose sharp eyes, keen judgement, and word–processing wizardry transformed my rough handwritten copy into an attractive, readable manuscript.

NOTES:

Complete citations for publications are listed in the bibliography. Only the author’s surname is listed in these notes. The letters PFRO, NMAA is this author’s abbreviation for the Accession File #1967.139, after Saint Gaudens by Eduard L. A. Pausch titled “Grief”; in the Registrar’s Office of the National Museum of American Art. The letters PFFA, GSA is this author’s abbreviation for the Fine Arts File #FA804 of the Agnus Memorial; in the Office of Fine Arts of the General Services Administration. After full names are introduced in note or in letter references, only the surnames are used subsequently.

1 Ellen Gurney to Mrs. James Eliott Cabot, January 1, 1886, as quoted in Kaledin, pp. 222–223; Washington Critic, December 7, 9, 1885.
2 Kirstein, p. 39; Wilkinson, p. 232.
3 Friedrich, pp. 164–165; O’Toole, p. 21; Kaledin, p. 124.
4 Kaledin, pp. 221–222; Friedrich, pp. 313–314.
5 Kaledin, pp. 34–35; Friedrich, p. 138.
6 Samuels, v. 2, p. 327.
7 Samuels, v. 3, p. 249; Friedrich, pp. 332–333.
8 Quoted in Friedrich, p. 138.
8b Quoted in Friedrich, p. 138.
9 Kaledin, pp. 223–225.
10 Quoted in Tehan, p. 48.
11 Kaledin, pp. 21–22.
12 Quoted in Kaledin, p. 73.
13 Quoted in Kaledin, p. 170.
14 Quoted in Kaledin, p. 181.
15 Kaledin, p. 191.
16 Quoted in Friedrich, p. 214.
17 Tehan, p. 88.
18 Quoted in Kaledin, pp. 99–100.
19 Kaledin, p. 100.
20 Tehan, p. 53.
21 Tehan, p. 31.
22 Tehan, p. 42.
23 Tehan, pp. 68–69.
24 Quoted in Kaledin, p. 183.
25 Gurney to Mrs. Cabot, January 1, 1886, as quoted in Kaledin, p. 224.
26 Mills, p. 26, Endnote 29.
27 Mills, p. 27.
28 Samuels, v. 2, p. 287.
29 Tehan, pp. 91–92.
30 Tehan, pp. 234–236, 289.
31 Samuels, v. 2, p. 298.
32 Mills, pp. 75–79.
33 Mills, pp. 83–84.
34 Mills, pp. 106–107; Samuels, v. 3, p. 87.
35 Mills, pp. 1–2.
36 Quoted in Mills, p. 164.
37 Hutchinson, p. 39.
38 Wrenn, Tony P., personal file, American Institute of Architects.
39 Mills, pp. 219–224.
40 Mills, pp. 218–219, 223–226.
41 Mills, p. 229.
42 Mills, pp. 230–231.
43 Letter from Wunder, Richard P., to Breeskin, Adelyn, November 22, 1966, PFRO, NMAA.
44 Letter from Wunder to Mrs. Leser, Felix A., March 13, 1967, PFRO, NMAA.
45 Letter from Leser to Wunder, March 17, 1967, PFRO, NMAA.
46 Letter from Dryfhout, John H., to Wunder, March 23, 1967, PFRO, NMAA.
47 Letter from Rullman and Wilson, Inc., to Mrs. Zapruder, Henry G., June 13, 1967, PFRO, NMAA. Bill from Rullman and Wilson, Inc., June 19, 1967, PFRO, NMAA. Receipt to Mrs. Felix Leser from Margorie G. Zapruder,
June 16, 1967, PFRO, NMAA.
48 Letter from Leser to Wunder, July 19, 1967, PFRO, NMAA. Letter from Wunder to Leser, July 25, 1967, PFRO, NMAA.
49 Letter from Richman, Michael T., to Dryfhout, August 18, 1967, PFRO, NMAA. Letter from Dryfhout to Wunder, September 18, 1967, PFRO, NMAA.
50 Letter from Dryfhout to Wunder, October 3, 1967, PFRO, NMAA.
51 Letter from James B. Ames to Harry W. Leizear, September 12, 1966, PFRO, NMAA. Letter from Lewis Iselin to Leizear, September 25, 1966, PFRO, NMAA.
52 Letter from Wunder to Iselin, November 7, 1967, PFRO, NMAA.
53 Memorandum from David W. Scott to Fred C. Harwick, January 6, 1968, PFRO, NMAA.
54 Telephone conversation between Daniel B. Krinsley and Terence C. Golden, August 20, 1996.
55 Memo from Marilyn Farley to Golden, March 6, 1987, PFFA, GSA.
56 Letter from Farley to Golden, March 12, 1987, PFFA, GSA.
57 Letter from Golden to Charles C. Eldridge, April 23, 1987, PFFA, GSA.
58 Letter from Farley to Golden, April 29, 1987, PFFA, GSA.
59 Letter from Jody Wilkie (Christie’s) to George Gurney, April 23, 1987, PFRO, NMAA. Telephone conversation between Peter Rathbone (Sotheby’s) and George Gurney, just prior to May 7, 1987, referred to in papers prepared for May 7, 1987 meeting of Commission, PFRO, NMAA.
60 Letter from Eldridge to Golden, May 14, 1987, PFRO, NMAA.
61 Memo from Gurney to Charles Robertson, Deputy Director, NMAA, June 26, 1987, PFRO, NMAA.
62 Letter from Eldridge to Mrs. Leser, October 2, 1987, PFRO, NMAA.
63 Letter from Leser to Eldridge, October 7, 1987, PFRO, NMAA.
64 Letter and Memorandum from Eldridge to Golden, October 7, 1987, PFFA, GSA.
65 Letter from Golden to Eldridge, November 25, 1987, PFFA, GSA.
66 Note from Farley to Golden, November 23, 1987, PFFA, GSA. Note from Farley to Golden, December 18, 1987, PFFA, GSA.
67 Memorandum from Farley to Dale Lanzoni, Chief, Arts in Architecture Program, GSA, May 17, 1988, PFFA, GSA.
Bill of Lading, United Rigging and Hauling, Inc., November 30, 1988, PFFA, GSA.
68 Printout for item No. AA133, dated April 5, 1991, PFFA, GSA.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1918.

Frances F. Donaldson, The President’s Square, The Cosmos Club’s and other Historic Homes on Lafayette Square. New York, Washington, Hollywood: Vantage Press, 1968.

Otto Friedrich, Clover. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979.

George E. Hutchinson, The History of Madison Place, Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C.: Unpublished Manuscript, Undated.

Eugenia Kaledin, The Education of Mrs. Henry Adams. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1981.

Lincoln Kirstein, Memorial to a Marriage. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1989.

Patricia O’Toole, The Five of Hearts. New York: Ballantine Books, 1990.

C J Mills, The Adams Memorial and American Funerary Sculpture, 1891–1927. University of Maryland: Doctoral Dissertation, 1996.

Homer Saint Gaudens, ed. The Reminiscences of Augustus Saint Gaudens. 2 vols. New York: Century, 1913.

Ernest Samuels, Henry Adams. 3 vols. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1947–64.

Arline Boucher Tehan, Henry Adams in Love. New York: Universe Books, 1983.

Burke Wilkinson, Uncommon Clay: The Life and Works of Augustus Saint Gaudens. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovitch, 1985.

Daniel B. Krinsley (CC ‘80) was
President of the Cosmos Club in 1996
and a member of the Geological Survey,
Department of the Interior,
2475 Virginia Avenue, NW,
Washington, DC 20037;
phone: (202) 338-6024


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