First weathervane version, bronze, photographed in the foundry,
historic photograph collection of SGNHS

Diana, First Version, 1886-91

The Diana was Saint-Gaudens only female nude. The statue, which went through several versions, was a touchstone for controversies and public criticism about nudity in art, real versus ideal in art, and was a source of endless humor for cartoonists and social satirists. The piece was designed to serve as a weathervane on top of architect Stanford White’s Madison Square Garden. This was the first statue in New York to be lit at night by electricity. In the New York before skyscrapers, the figure could be seen from the Hudson River and from New Jersey.

W. H. Mullins Manufacturing Company in Salem, Ohio constructed the first completed version of the figure. Of gilded copper, it stood eighteen feet high. It was unveiled with great ceremony in October 1891, but was soon discovered to be too large for the tower. In September 1892, Diana was removed and placed on top of the Agriculture Building at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. (Saint-Gaudens was head of Fair's sculpture committee.) The bottom half of the figure was lost to fire at the fairgrounds after the Exposition’s close. Location of the upper half is unknown.