In The Studio Days
Helena asleep with Rodman in her arms
"Helena described the Gilder living room. There were 'great shelves for casts and books and nails for everything.' The Gilders had been given a hammock for a wedding present, which was slung "across one corner of the room with a beautiful leopard skin below it,' Helena Gilder continued to paint, stopping only briefly when each of her seven children arrived."
"On a Saturday in early June, Gus Saint-Gaudens, rang the bell at an iron gate leading to a flagstone walk bordered by flowers. 'It was noon and I was home for lunch,' Richard wrote. 'I ran down to the gate and I can tell you there was a high wind blowing. Saint-Gaudens was 'mad as hops' because they had just thrown out a piece of sculpture of his from the Academy (National Academy of Design) exhibit and he was ready to go into a new movement. I told him to come around that evening.' Gilder got hold of Walter Shirlaw and Wyatt Eaton and that evening they founded the Society of American Artists; Shirlaw, president; Saint-Gaudens, vice-president; Eaton, secretary, and Helena, a mere member willing to do most of the secretary's work. They changed the name to the American Art Association at the next meeting. Louis Tiffany joined at a third meeting and said he knew where he could raise some money. In Paris, Saint-Gaudens joyfully took on the job of getting young American artists to join and send work to New York for the first exhibit."
National Academy of Design
"It had originally been a carriage house, the large room where we have spent so many pleasant evenings, owed its dimensions to this previous occupancy, and had been altered into a dwelling for the uses of a young couple. Of these, the wife was one of the four who had met the previous June and, though she has abandoned the practice of her art for a social sphere, in which her talents find equal employment, she was at that time an active member of the Society. The husband was hardly less interested and influential in those earlier days. The meeting had been called to order when I entered with Eaton, but the proceedings were suspended to greet (me). So informal were the customs of the new Society, that, when the proceedings were resumed, no one appeared to to mark the presence of a non-member, until (I) called their attention to the fact.
-from "A Chronicle of Friendships 1873-1900" by Will H. Low
Helena in her studio, 103 East 15th Street, drawn by Vernon Howe Bailey for a Century Magazine article: "Life-work and Homes of Richard Watson Gilder" by Maria Horner Lonsdale
"Post-Civil War prosperity effected an artistic awakening in some sections of America, most notably New York City, which in the 1870s was rapidly becoming the artistic capital of the nation. Its major art institution, the National Academy of Design (founded in 1825), was one of the oldest organizations of its kind in America. Representation in one of its annual exhibitions was a significant accomplishment for an artist; and election to full membership was indeed a paramount goal for many. By the mid-1870s, however, artists and art students in New York increasingly realized that the Academy was no longer adequate to serve the needs of their growing profession.
-from "http://www.theartstudentsleague.org" (History)