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What a Relief! Innovations in American Sculpture, 1875–1910
The C. Richard Hilker Lecture
David B. Dearinger
Thu, May 7th, 2020 | 6:30 pm | FREE*


Explore the works of America’s two leading sculptors of the late 19th and early 20th centuries: Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848–1907) and Daniel Chester French (1850–1931). Particular attention will be given to their innovations in relief sculpture. During the last quarter of the 19th century, just as painters were manipulating their materials in new ways, sculptors were reconsidering traditional ways of sculpting. Saint-Gaudens encouraged his fellow sculptors to de-neutralize the flat backgrounds of relief sculpture and use them to suggest space, atmosphere, and mood. In doing so, sculptors of the period brought their work into alignment with that of those contemporary painters who were working in impressionistic and expressionistic modes.

David B. Dearinger is an art historian and museum curator who specializes in the history of 19th-century American painting and sculpture.

This is a special program presented free of charge by the Sansom Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports numerous causes. Since 2001, the Foundation has held a series of scholarly lectures to celebrate and commemorate the leadership of the late C. Richard Hilker, its past President.


The Robert H. Smith Auditorium at the New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024


By phone: Contact New-York Historical’s in-house call center at (212) 485-9268. Call center is open 9 am–5 pm daily.
Online: Click on the orange “Reserve Tickets” button at the top of this page.
In person: Advance tickets may be purchased on site at New-York Historical’s Admissions desk during museum hours.

Advance purchase is required to guarantee seating. All sales are final; refunds and exchanges not permitted. Programs and dates may be subject to change. Management reserves the right to refuse admission to latecomers. Program tickets do not include Museum Admission unless otherwise noted.

Creative: Tronvig Group