The Electrified Goddess: Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Stanford White and Diana at Madison Square Garden

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2011


Art and Art History



Publication Title

Nineteenth Century


With the installation of Augustus Saint-Gaudens's eighteen-foot statue Diana atop Stanford White's colossal new Madison Square Garden in 1891, a Gilded-Age landmark was complete - for the moment, at least. Located at Madison Avenue and 26th Street in New York City, this building by White and his firm was not the first Madison Square Garden to occupy the setting, but it was by far the most ambitious; boasting a central arena capable of seating nearly twenty-thousand visitors and equiped with a theater, concert hall, swimming pool, shopping arcade, meeting hall and a rooftop garden, it was, in th words of one critic, "a compendium of the city life in one volume." The Garden's tower, modeled on the Giralda bell tower in Seville, gave the building its distinctive character, while the gilded copper sculpture of Diana, the Roman goddess of the hunt, was its most engaging feature. One of several collaborations between Saint-Gaudens and White, Madison Square Garden was perhaps the most memorable. As the architect George Fletcher Babb remarked before White's building, "Well, you've designed quite a pedestal for Saint-Gaudens this time."


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