Jacksonville Public Library Unveils Rare Savage Sculpture

Jun 28, 2017

The Jacksonville Public Library unveiled a piece of art Wednesday from Harlem Renaissance sculptor and Jacksonville native Augusta Savage.

The painted terracotta female bust was discovered in the library’s collection before being appraised and authenticated by the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville and the Cummer Museum.

Jacksonville Public Library Director Barbara Gubbin says the bust is especially meaningful, given Savage’s upbringing in Green Cove Springs and her time living in Jacksonville.

“Ms. Savage has a very important connection — I believe it was her birthplace — with Green Cove Springs,” she told attendees.

Ritz Theatre and Museum administrator Adonnica Toler reiterated the importance of the event as an opportunity to celebrate the life and the work of the artist and educator.

“Because of (racism) and sexism, she has been in the background. She has not received the recognition she should have,” Toler said. “So today, with the unveiling of this wonderful piece, she’s getting some of the attention she should have had many, many years ago.”

A plaque next to the encasing recounted the artist’s humble beginnings. Savage worked mainly with clay and plaster, instead of casting her work in expensive bronze, which is why much of her work has not survived.

The unnamed sculpture is on permanent display in the Special Collections Department on the fourth floor of the Main Library. It is one of three pieces of art by Savage. Two other pieces are available for viewing at the Cummer Museum.

Matthew Farina can be reached at newsteam@wjct.org and on Twitter @themaddyice