Daniel Chester French
|Born||April 20, 1850|
Exeter, New Hampshire, U.S.
|Died||October 7, 1931 (aged 81)|
|Education||Massachusetts Institute of Technology (no degree)|
|Patron(s)||Hiram Powers, Thomas Ball|
Daniel Chester French (April 20, 1850 – October 7, 1931) was an American sculptor of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, best known for his design of the monumental statue of Abraham Lincoln (1920) in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
French was the son of Anne Richardson (1811–1856), daughter of William Merchant Richardson (1774–1838), chief justice of New Hampshire; and of Henry Flagg French (1813–1885). His siblings were Henriette Van Mater French Hollis (1839–1911), Sarah Flagg French Bartlett (1846–1883), and William M.R. French (1843–1914).
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, and his wife Anne Richardson. In 1867, French moved with his family to Concord, Massachusetts, 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.
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 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. French also became a member of the National Academy of Design (1901), the American Academy of Arts and Letters (which awarded him the Gold Medal for Sculpture in 1917), 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.
In 1917, French and a colleague, H. Augustus Lukeman, designed the Pulitzer Prize gold medal presented to laureates. French designed the side of the prize with Benjamin Franklin on it, while Lukeman created the iconic design of the printing press and the wording on the award: "For disinterested and meritorious public service rendered by an American newspaper during the year….". In collaboration with Edward Clark Potter he modeled the George Washington statue, commissioned by a group that called itself "The Association of American Women for the Erection of a Statue of Washington in Paris" and unveiled in the Place d'Iena in Paris, France, in 1900; the General Grant statue in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, commissioned by the Association for Public Art (formerly the Fairmount Park Art Association); and the equestrian statue of Joseph Hooker in Boston.
French was one of many sculptors who frequently employed Audrey Munson as a model; another frequent sitter was Hettie Anderson. Together with Walter Leighton Clark and others, he was also one of the founders of the Berkshire Playhouse, 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] when it called him "a sculptor, whose skillful 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". French also taught; among his pupils was the sculptor Edith Howland.
Architecture (1901), Richard Morris Hunt Memorial
Dupont Circle Fountain (1921), Dupont Circle, Washington DC
Westinghouse Memorial (1930), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
American Youth, Westinghouse Memorial (1930), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Jurisprudence, Federal Building, (1910) Cleveland, Ohio
The Spirit of Life (1915), Congress Park, Saratoga Springs, NY
(Bull by Edward Clark Potter)
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|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article "French, Daniel Chester".|