Daniel Chester French

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Daniel Chester French
Daniel Chester French 1902 crop.jpg
Born (1850-04-20)April 20, 1850
Exeter, New Hampshire
Died October 7, 1931(1931-10-07) (aged 81)
Stockbridge, Massachusetts
Nationality American
Known for Sculpture
Movement American Renaissance

Daniel Chester French (April 20, 1850 – October 7, 1931), one of the most prolific and acclaimed American sculptors of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, is best known for his monumental work, the statue of Abraham Lincoln (1920) in the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C.

Life and career[edit]

French was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, to Henry Flagg French (1813–1885), a lawyer, judge, Assistant US Treasury Secretary and author of a book that described the French drain,[1] and his wife Anne Richardson.[2] In 1867, French moved with his family to Concord, Massachusetts,[3] where he was a neighbor and friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the Alcott family. His decision to pursue sculpting was influenced by Louisa May Alcott's sister May Alcott.

Chesterwood in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, French's summer home and studio, now a museum

French's early education included training in anatomy with William Rimmer and in drawing with William Morris Hunt. French spent a year studying at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and also several years in Florence, Italy studying in the studio of Thomas Ball. French first earned acclaim for the Minute Man, commissioned by the town of Concord, Massachusetts, which was unveiled April 19, 1875, on the centenary of the Battle of Lexington and Concord. He soon established his own studio, first in Washington DC, moving later to Boston and then to New York City. French's reputation grew with his Statue of the Republic for the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, in Chicago. Other memorable works by French include: the First Division Monument and the Butt-Millet Memorial Fountain in Washington; John Harvard, Cambridge, Massachusetts; bronze doors for the Boston Public Library; and The Four Continents at the US Custom House, New York (now the Alexander Hamilton US Custom House). In addition to the Lincoln Memorial, French collaborated with architect Henry Bacon on numerous memorials around the country and on the Dupont Circle fountain in Washington DC.

In 1893, French was a founding member of the National Sculpture Society, and he was appointed a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1913.[4] French also became a member of the National Academy of Design (1901), the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Architectural League, and the Accademia di San Luca, of Rome. He was a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and a co-founder of the American Academy in Rome. He was a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor and was awarded a medal of honor from the Paris Exposition of 1900; he also was granted honorary degrees from Dartmouth, Yale, Harvard, and Columbia Universities. He was a founding member of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, serving from 1910 to 1915, including as chairman from 1912 to 1915.[5]

In 1917, he designed the Pulitzer Prize gold medal presented to laureates.[6] In collaboration with Edward Clark Potter he modeled the George Washington statue, presented to France by the Daughters of the American Revolution; the General Grant statue in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, commissioned by the Association for Public Art (formerly the Fairmount Park Art Association);[7] and the General Joseph Hooker statue in Boston.

French was one of many sculptors who frequently employed Audrey Munson as a model. Together with Walter Leighton Clark and others, he was also one of the founders of the Berkshire Playhouse,[8] which later became the Berkshire Theatre Festival. In 1917, Harvard's citation in conferring an honorary Master of Arts referred to his statue of Emerson[clarification needed][9] when it called him "a sculptor, whose skilful hand, unlike that of the friend whom he portrayed, has not been stopped but spared to adorn our land by the creation of his art".[10][11]

French died in Stockbridge, Massachusetts in 1931 at age 81 and was buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord, Massachusetts.

Legacy[edit]

  • Chesterwood, French's summer home and studio – designed by his architect friend and frequent collaborator Henry Bacon – is now a museum.
  • In 1940, French was selected as one of five artists to be honored in the 35-stamp "Famous Americans" series.[12]

Works[edit]

Minute Man (1874) in Concord, Massachusetts

Notable public monuments[edit]

"America" 1907 statue outside National American Indian Museum in U.S. Customs Bldg., N.Y.C.

Architectural sculpture[edit]

Justice (1900) adorns the pediment of the Appellate Division Courthouse of New York State in Manhattan
Marshall Field Memorial (1906), Chicago

Cemetery monuments[edit]

Selected museum pieces[edit]

Miscellaneous pieces[edit]

  • The Chicago Incendiary — edition of a small bisque statuette depicting the cow alleged to have started the Great Chicago Fire of 1871
  • The Minute Man — depicted on a US postage stamp issued in 1925, commemorating the Battles of Lexington and Concord

References[edit]

Daniel Chester French's The Minute Man depicted on US Postage Stamp, 1925 Issue, 5c
~ Daniel Chester French ~
Issue of 1940

Notes

  1. ^ French, Henry F. (1859). Farm drainage: the principles, processes, and effects of draining land with stones, wood, plows, and open ditches, and especially with tiles. New York: Orange Judd & Company. 
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg "French, Daniel Chester". New International Encyclopedia. 1906. 
  4. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter F". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 7 April 2011. 
  5. ^ Luebke, Thomas E., ed., Civic Art: A Centennial History of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, 2013): Appendix B, p. 544.
  6. ^ Homren, Wayne (11 April 2004). "Pulitzer Secrets Revealed". The E-Sylum 7 (15, art. 5). Retrieved 2007-07-01. 
  7. ^ Bach, Penny (1992). Public Art in Philadelphia. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. p. 208. ISBN 0-87722-822-1. 
  8. ^ http://www.berkshireweb.com/culture/index.html
  9. ^ Harvard Alumni Bulletin v.19
  10. ^ Callan, Richard L. 100 Dears of Solitude: John Harvard Finishes His First Century. The Harvard Crimson. April 28, 1984. Retrieved October 13, 2012
  11. ^ Harvard Alumni Bulletin v.19
  12. ^ http://www.1847usa.com/identify/YearSets/FamousAmericans.htm
  13. ^ Chicago Landmarks | Statue of The Republic at www.ci.chi.il.us
  14. ^ Ramsey Al-Rikabi (2007-06-12). "Seward's bust gets busted". Times Herald-Record. Retrieved 2007-06-30. 

Further reading

  • Buck, Diane M. and Virginia A. Palmer, Outdoor Sculpture in Milwaukee: A Cultural and Historical Guidebook, The State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison, 1995
  • Caffin, Charles H., American Masters of Sculpture, Doubleday, Page & Company, New York 1913
  • Caffin, in International Studio, volumes xx (1903), lx (1910), and lxvi (1912)
  • Carlock, Marty, A Guide to Public Art in Greater Boston from Newburyport to Plymouth, The Harvard Common Press, Boston Massachusetts, 1988
  • Chesterwood Archives, Geographical List of Works: DRAFT, unpublished manuscript, April 14, 1993
  • Coughlan, in Magazine of Art (1901)
  • Craven, Wayne, Sculpture in America, Thomas Y. Crowell Co, NY, NY 1968
  • Cresson, Margaret French, Journey in Fame: The Life of Daniel Chaster French, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1947
  • Hucke, Matt and Ursela Bielski, Graveyards of Chicago: the People, History, Art and Lore of Cook County Cemeteries, Lake Claremont Press, Chicago, 1999
  • Kvaran, Einar Einarsson, Architectural Sculpture in America
  • Lanctot, Barbara, A Walk Through Graceland Cemetery, Chicago Architectural Foundation, Chicago, Illinois, 1988
  • Richman, Michael, Daniel Chester French: An American Sculptor, The Preservation Press, Washington D.C., 1976
  • Taft, Lorado, The History of American Sculpture, MacMillan Co., New York, NY 1925
  • Wilson, Susan, Garden of Memorias: A Guide to Historic Forest Hills, Forest Hills Educational Trust

External links[edit]