triangular base with knob to turn ball on which proper left leg of nude female in midst of drawing arrow in bow rests, proper right left extended back; mythology
Augustus Saint-Gaudens, one of America’s preeminent sculptors, was commissioned to create a large weathervane statue to crown New York’s Madison Square Garden in the early 1890s. There were two official gilded versions made for the Garden, along with multiple smaller-scale copies. This bronze copy, cast in 1899, does not include the gilding or the drapery found on the originals. It is the only version that turns, similar to the original weathervane placed at the top of Madison Square Garden (The flower on the pyramidal base engages the turning mechanism).
The statue depicts Diana, the Roman goddess of the hunt, nude and drawing her bow. In Greco-Roman myth, Diana was only seen nude by one mortal, the hunter Actaeon. When Diana turned Actaeon into a deer for his unwitting mistake, his hunting dogs turned on him and killed him. Saint-Gaudens seems to echo this story, showing the goddess in the nude but with her usual attributes, a bow and arrow. This second version of the statue, however, was not ultimately chosen for the weathervane, as it did not turn very well in the wind, defeating its stated purpose as a weathervane. The final version of the Diana of the Tower was depicted clothed.
gender identity; mythology; women
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