We finally got around to visiting the summer homestead, “Aspet,” of American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, in Cornish, NH, just over the VT border. It’s a National Park Service historic site, one of only two National Park Service sites dedicated to visual artists (the other is Weir Farm National Historic Site, in Wilton CT).
(I had just heard writer David McCullough singing Saint-Gaudens’ praises on a rebroadcast of Writers on a New England Stage earlier in the week.)
We arrived yesterday just as the 2 p.m. concert was getting underway, an a cappella concert of choral songs from many countries and traditions, by Houseblend. We could have sat along the porch balustrades, or on the garden steps, or sprawled on the grass and focused our attention on the music, but instead we wandered the grounds, the songs wafting our way from time to time. There’s a Sunday concert on most Sundays in the summer, and it creates a very relaxed feeling: formal house tours are suspended on these days, so visitors can meander through as they wish, and people are strewn — have strewn themselves — throughout the grounds, in chairs, on blankets, having picnics, with dogs, reading and sketching, photographing, admiring the gardens in full bloom, taking in the mountain and meadow views, looking at paintings, sculpture, landscaping and architecture.
It’s the kind of party I’d like to have if I could get 200 of my friends and merest acquaintances into my 3/4 acre plot.
If you go, don’t miss the Sculptor in Residence in the Ravine studio. And if you don’t know much about Saint-Gaudens, make sure you watch the 18-minute video in the visitors center.
Below are some images from our visit (click on images for larger view and slideshow):