Saint-Gaudens Brings History, Mystery to DHMC


Submitted 10 months ago
Created by
Susan B. Apel

History and art and best of all, mysteries big and even bigger, are coming to DHMC. You can be a part of this joint project between the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish NH and DHMC’s Department of Radiology when a new exhibition, Lincoln in Negative Space: The Intersection of Imaging and Art, opens in the Medical Center’s rotunda on January 18, 2018. A reception and art walk through this display, in addition to the works of 7 New England-based artists, will be held from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. on Level 4 near the entrance from the parking garage.

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Saint-Gaudens made his home and studio in the Upper Valley, and helped to establish the Cornish Art colony in the late 1800s. Visitors to the Historic Site are familiar with his works, including the Shaw Memorial, Grief/Adams Memorial, and the most recent addition, the standing Abraham Lincoln (featured photo, in mid-installation, top). His sculptures are known throughout the world, including his statute of William Tecumseh Sherman just outside of Central Park in New York City.

Saint-Gaudens’ Sherman in New York City

Sculptors like Saint-Gaudens create their sculptures using plaster molds. The molds are often saved and sealed. Last winter, the National Park Service approached DHMC’s Radiology Department to ask if it could scan plaster molds that had been sealed by the artist and not touched for one hundred years. Because the molds were sealed, the Park Service wanted to preserve their historic authenticity, that is, they did not want to open them.  And they were not certain what was inside.

DHMC CT-scanned the 16 sealed molds. These numerous, somewhat expected but still thrilling, mysteries were revealed and will be on display to viewers for the first time in over a century. (The image above is a sneak peek.) A storyboard in the rotunda  will explain the complex process of scanning and 3D printing of the molds. Many of the molds turned out to be pieces of larger sculptures by Saint-Gaudens, probably kept in part to provide replacements if the original creations sustained damage. 

The bigger mystery?  As the scanning process unfolded, one of the molds was revealed to be a bust of this gentleman. Even the Saint-Gaudens staff cannot identify him.  Anyone?

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