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Art + History: The Shaw Memorial by Augustus Saint Gaudens

Daytime Program

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Thursday, November 5, 2020 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1K0033
This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
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Robert Gould Shaw Memorial, Boston, MA


  • This program is part of our Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
  • Platform: Zoom
  • Online registration is required.
  • If you register multiple individuals, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses so they can receive a Zoom link email. Please note that if there is a change in program schedule or a cancellation, we will notify you via email, and it will be your responsibility to notify other registrants in your group.

Great art is timeless, and speaks to us across time, culture and space. Yet great works come from real people living real lives—whether their work was made 5 minutes or 500 years ago. Popular Smithsonian Associates speaker Paul Glenshaw looks at great works of art in their historical context. He delves into the time of the artist, explores the present they inhabited, and what shaped their vision and creations.

In stark contrast to Sargent’s blinded soldiers leading one another away from a battlefield of a useless war, the African-American soldiers of the Massachusetts 54th in Augustus Saint-Gaudens' Shaw Memorial stride confidently toward battle for a cause they are willing to die for—freedom. Almost all the members of the Massachusetts 54th, including their white commanding officer, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, would be killed in the July 1863 attack on Fort Wagner, South Carolina. The original memorial stands in Boston Common, with a plaster version on display at the National Gallery. Saint-Gaudens took great pains to make sure each solider was a portrait. Who were the Massachusetts 54th and Colonel Shaw? What brought them together? How was the Civil War—and these soldiers in particular—being remembered in 1897 when the memorial was unveiled?

Glenshaw is an artist, educator, author, and filmmaker with more than 25 years' experience working across disciplines in the arts, history, and sciences. He teaches drawing for Smithsonian Associates and studied painting at Washington University in St. Louis.

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1/2 credit*

Art and History Lectures

If you are interested in additional Art + History lectures, view the upcoming schedule:

Patron Information

  • Once registered, patrons should receive an automatic email confirmation from
  • Separate Zoom link information will be emailed closer to the date of the program. If you do not receive your Zoom link information 24 hours prior to the start of the program, please email Customer Service for assistance.
  • View Common FAQs about our Streaming Programs on Zoom.

*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1/2 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.