Mantelpiece - Cornelius Vanderbilt Mansion
New York City, 1881-83
This mantelpiece originally dominated the entrance hall of the Cornelius Vanderbilt II residence located on Fifth (demolished 1925-27). George B. Post (1837-1913) was the architect, and artist John LaFarge (1835-1910) oversaw the interior decoration. The sculptural program was the product of an artistic collaboration between Saint-Gaudens and his assistants: his brother Louis, Frederick Kaldenberg, Frederick MacMonnies, Philip Martiny, and René de Quélin.
In his Reminiscences, Saint-Gaudens recalled: "The undertaking required not only the two caryatids for the monumental mantelpiece and the mosaic that surmounted it, but as well the superintendence of the models for all the wood carving in the hall."
The Latin inscription surrounding the head of the seated female figure in the mosaic panel reads: "The house at its threshold gives evidence of the master's good will. Welcome to the guest who arrives; farewell and helpfulness to him who departs."