Born in Green Cove Springs, Florida, Augusta Savage moved to Jacksonville at the age of 16 to earn a living sculpting portrait busts of prominent African Americans. In 1921, she moved to New York and received many fellowships and awards, allowing her to travel and study abroad. In 1932 Savage began a notable teaching career with the founding of the Savage School of Arts and Crafts in New York and became one of twentieth-century America’s most prolific and influential sculptors. However, because of her often-difficult financial situation, few of her works survive to this day.
Gamin was created early in her career, around 1930, and won her a scholarship to study in Europe. The title Gamin refers to a French word meaning “street urchin, “ leading some scholars to believe the portrait bust represents a homeless boy, while others believe it may be a likeness of Savage’s nephew, Ellis Ford. Few of her painted plaster originals, like Gamin, were cast in bronze due to her lack of funds, and most were ultimately destroyed. This particular example of Gamin was formerly in the collection of Theron Fowler, a photographer and friend of Savage.
Gamin bears the same psychologically-penetrating expressiveness as another of her works already in the permanent collection at The Cummer, The Diving Boy. This bronze sculpture was placed in the Italian Garden at the foot of one of the long reflecting pools by Museum founder, Ninah M. H. Cummer. This sculpture which now resides in the Helen Murchison and Edward W. Lane, Jr. Gallery, is currently on view in the La Florida exhibition.
Gamin will be on permanent display in the Lane Gallery. Come visit us and see the wonderful addition to the museum’s permanent collection.