Daniel Chester French

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 design of the monumental work the statue of Abraham Lincoln (1920) in the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC.

Daniel Chester French
Daniel Chester French 1902 crop
BornApril 20, 1850
DiedOctober 7, 1931 (aged 81)
EducationMassachusetts Institute of Technology (no degree)
Known forSculpture
Notable work
Abraham Lincoln
MovementAmerican Renaissance
Patron(s)Hiram Powers, Thomas Ball
America, Daniel Chester French
America, one of The Four Continents at The Alexander Hamilton Custom House, Bowling Green, New York City


Parents: Mother, Anne Richardson (1811–1856), daughter of William Merchant Richardson (1774–1838), chief justice of New Hampshire. Father, Henry Flagg French (1813–1885) Siblings: Henriette Van Mater French Hollis (1839–1911), Sarah Flagg French Bartlett (1846–1883), and William M.R. French (1843–1914)

Life and career

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, studio, and gardens, now a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

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 (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.[5]

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….".[6] 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);[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[9] 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".[10][11] French also taught; among his pupils was the sculptor Edith Howland.[12]

French died in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, in 1931 at age 81 and was buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord, Massachusetts.[13]

Minute Man
Minute Man (Concord) (1874) in Concord, Massachusetts



Notable public monuments


2004-08-08 1580x2800 chicago republic

Statue of The Republic, (1893, reduced vers. 1918), Chicago

Central Park NYC - Richard Morris Hunt Memorial by Daniel Chester French - IMG 5761

Architecture (1901), Richard Morris Hunt Memorial


Marshall Field Memorial (1906), Chicago

Fountain at Dupont Circle

Dupont Circle Fountain (1921), Dupont Circle, Washington DC

Westinghouse Plaque Schenley Park

Westinghouse Memorial (1930), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

George Westinghouse Memorial2

American Youth, Westinghouse Memorial (1930), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Architectural sculpture

2010 Appellate courthouse Daniel Chester French Justice
Justice (1900) adorns the pediment of the Appellate Division Courthouse of New York State in Manhattan
Law PnP French Philly
Law, Prosperity, and Power (1880-84), West Fairmount Park, Philadelphia.[19]
Lexington Concord-5c
Daniel Chester French's The Minute Man depicted on US Postage Stamp, 1925 Issue, 5c
Daniel Chester French 1940 Issue-5c
~ Daniel Chester French ~
Issue of 1940

Cemetery monuments

Selected museum pieces

Miscellaneous pieces



  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. ^ "French, Daniel Chester". Men of America: A Biographical Dictionary of Contemporaries. 1: 924. 1908.
  3. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Gilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "French, Daniel Chester" . New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.
  4. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter F" (PDF). 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. ^ "Arts & Entertainment In The Berkshires". Archived from the original on 2009-06-28.
  9. ^ "Harvard Alumni Bulletin". Harvard Bulletin, Incorporated. 1 January 1916 – via Google Books.
  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. ^ Jules Heller; Nancy G. Heller (19 December 2013). North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century: A Biographical Dictionary. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-135-63882-5.
  13. ^ "Daniel Chester French," Find a Grave, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord, Massachusetts; website memorial (366) with biographical profile on French and photographs of his gravesite created on January 1, 2001. Retrieved April 2, 2017.
  14. ^ "Chesterwood - National Trust for Historic Preservation".
  15. ^ "1847usa.com".
  16. ^ Chicago Landmarks | Statue of The Republic Archived 2008-12-26 at the Wayback Machine at www.ci.chi.il.us
  17. ^ "Lincoln Memorial National Memorial---Places Reflecting America's Diverse Cultures Explore their Stories in the National Park System: A Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary".
  18. ^ Ramsey Al-Rikabi (2007-06-12). "Seward's bust gets busted". Times Herald-Record. Retrieved 2007-06-30.
  19. ^ (Law, Prosperity, and Power, SIRIS) ]]
  20. ^ "Lake Winnipesaukee Historical Society". www.lwhs.us. Retrieved 2016-02-09.

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 into Fame: The Life of Daniel Chester French, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1947
  • Dearinger, David, Daniel Chester French: The Female Form Revealed, Boston Athenaeum, 2016
  • 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 DC, 1976
  • Taft, Lorado, The History of American Sculpture, MacMillan Co., New York, NY 1925
  • Tolles, Thayer. “Daniel Chester French (1850–1931).” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (June 2010)
  • Wilson, Susan, Garden of Memorials: A Guide to Historic Forest Hills, Forest Hills Educational Trust

External links

Abraham Lincoln (1912 statue)

Abraham Lincoln – also known as The Gettysburg Lincoln – is a bronze statue of President Abraham Lincoln by Daniel Chester French, located on the grounds of the Nebraska State Capitol. The monument was commissioned by the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Association of Lincoln, Nebraska, and produced between 1909 and its unveiling in 1912.

The statue was cast in bronze by Jno. Williams, Inc. of New York. Its architectural setting was created by French's longtime collaborator Henry Bacon. The 8.67 ft (2.64 m) statue stands upon a 6 ft (1.83 m) granite base and before a 20 ft (6.1 m) granite stele, on which is inscribed the text of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

French later used much of his research for this statue – consisting largely of studying Mathew Brady's photographs of Lincoln and obtaining a copy of Leonard Volk's plaster life cast of the president – in the creation of his most famous work: the Seated Lincoln statue (1920) at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Abraham Lincoln (1920 statue)

Abraham Lincoln (1920) is a colossal seated figure of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865) sculpted by Daniel Chester French (1850–1931) and carved by the Piccirilli Brothers. It is situated in the Lincoln Memorial (constructed 1914–1922), on the National Mall, Washington, D.C., USA, and was unveiled in 1922. Stylistically, the work follows in the Beaux Arts and American Renaissance traditions.

Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House

The Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House is a building in New York City built in 1902–1907 by the federal government to house the duty collection operations for the Port of New York. It is located at 1 Bowling Green, near the southern tip of Manhattan, roughly on the same spot as Fort Amsterdam, the original center of the settlement of New Amsterdam, and Government House, the mansion built as an official residence for the President of the United States, but which was never occupied. The Custom House was named to commemorate Alexander Hamilton, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and its first Secretary of the Treasury.

The building is now the home of the George Gustav Heye Center of the National Museum of the American Indian, as well as the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York; since 2012, it is also the home to the National Archives at New York City.

Beneficence (statue)

Beneficence is a bronze statue on the campus of Ball State University, located in Muncie, Indiana. The statue is referred to as Benny by students.

Butt-Millet Memorial Fountain

The Butt-Millet Memorial Fountain is a memorial fountain located in the President's Park in Washington, D.C., in the United States. Dedicated in October 1913, it commemorates the deaths of Archibald Butt (the military aide to President William Howard Taft) and Francis Davis Millet (a journalist and painter, and Butt's close friend and housemate). Both men died during the sinking of the RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912.

Centennial District (Philadelphia)

The Centennial District is a 700 acre section of West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that contains the Philadelphia Zoo, the Please Touch Museum and the Mann Music Center. The neighborhood sits on a section of town that was the location of the 1876 Centennial Exposition, which was 100 years after the founding of the United States with the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

The area is part of a plan to incorporate parts of present-day Fairmount Park to revitalize neighborhoods in the area for the year 2026.

Cuyahoga County Courthouse

The Cuyahoga County Courthouse stretches along Lakeside Boulevard at the north end of the Cleveland Mall in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. The building was listed on the National Register along with the mall district in 1975. Other notable buildings of the Group Plan are the Howard M. Metzenbaum U.S. Courthouse designed by Arnold Brunner, the Cleveland Public Library, the Board of Education Building, Cleveland City Hall, and Public Auditorium.

Death and the Sculptor

Death and the Sculptor, also known as the Milmore Monument and The Angel of Death and the Young Sculptor is a sculpture in bronze, and one of the most important and influential works of art created by sculptor Daniel Chester French. The work was commissioned to mark the grave in Forest Hills Cemetery in Jamaica Plain, Boston, Massachusetts, of the brothers Joseph (1841-1886), James and Martin Milmore (1844-1883). It has two figures effectively in the round, linked to a background relief behind them. The right-hand figure represents a sculptor, whose hand holding a chisel is gently restrained by the fingers of the left-hand figure, representing Death, here shown as a winged female.

First Division Monument

The First Division Monument is located in President's Park, south of State Place Northwest, between 17th Street Northwest and West Executive Avenue Northwest in Washington, DC, United States. The Monument commemorates those who died while serving in the 1st Infantry Division of the U. S. Army.

Henry Bacon

Henry Bacon (November 28, 1866 – February 16, 1924) was an American Beaux-Arts architect who is best remembered for the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. (built 1915–22), which was his final project.

Lewis Cass (French)

Lewis Cass is an 1889 marble sculpture by Daniel Chester French of the soldier, diplomat and politician that the state of Michigan donated as their first statue to the National Statuary Hall Collection in Washington, D.C., United States.

Memory (French)

Memory is an 1886–1887 (revised 1909) marble sculpture by American artist Daniel Chester French. The finished version measures 57.5 inches (146 cm) x 25 inches (64 cm) x 42.5 inches (108 cm) and is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection. The statue was carved by the Piccirilli Brothers.French began working on the concept for the sculpture in 1886 when he produced a small clay sketch that was subsequently cast in bronze. The work was also called Memory. He then returned to the idea about 20 years later and produced the current work. The president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Robert W. de Forest, wanted to obtain the piece for the museum, but because French was a Trustee of the institution, it would have been unethical for the museum to pay him for it. Eventually a donor, Henry Walters, the museum's vice president, purchased the statue and donated it to the museum. French considered the work to be, "the chief effort of my life."

Richard Morris Hunt Memorial

The Richard Morris Hunt Memorial is a memorial to Richard Morris Hunt, designed by Bruce Price with sculptures by Daniel Chester French, located in Central Park in Manhattan, New York. It was erected in 1898 by the Art Societies of New York.

Ruth Anne Dodge Memorial

The Ruth Anne Dodge Memorial, also known as the Black Angel, is a historic object located in Council Bluffs, Iowa, United States. This is the only work in Iowa by the American sculptor Daniel Chester French. The cast bronze sculpture stands along the edge of Fairview Cemetery as a tribute to Ruth Anne Dodge, the wife of railroad magnet Grenville M. Dodge. The 8.5-foot (2.6 m) tall angel holds a water basin and is wreathed in laurel. Its pedestal is a representation of a ship's prow with a garland swag, carved in pink marble. The pedestal, platform and reflecting pool is the work of New York architect Henry Bacon. The work was commissioned by Dodge's daughters Anne Dodge and Ella Dodge Pusey. It represent's a recurring dream their mother had as she was dying of cancer. An angel with a bowl of water approached her and urged her to drink. During the third occurrence of the dream Mrs. Dodge took a drink and she died not long after. The sculpture was individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. In 2007 it was included as a contributing property in the Lincoln-Fairview Historic District.

Statue of The Republic

The Statue of The Republic is a 24-foot-high (7.3 m) gilded bronze sculpture in Jackson Park, Chicago, Illinois. It is a smaller-scale replica constructed in 1918 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where the original statue was, and commemorates the Illinois statehood centennial. The statue was funded by the Benjamin Ferguson Fund, which commissioned Daniel Chester French, the sculptor of the original 65-foot-tall (20 m) statue that stood on the grounds of the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, to sculpt this replica. Edith Minturn Stokes served as French's model for the original statue. Henry Bacon, the architect of the Lincoln Memorial, designed the festooned pedestal for the replica statue.

The statue's right hand holds a globe; an eagle with wings spread perches on it. The other hand grasps a staff with a plaque that reads "liberty", partly obscured by an encircling laurel wreath. The original at the Exposition had instead a Phrygian cap on top of the staff.

The original was only partly gilded (no gold on the exposed skin of the head, neck and arms), but the new version is completely gilded.The original statue for the Exposition, constructed in 1893, stood in front of the Court of Honor, inside the Great Basin (pool). However, in 1896 the statue succumbed to a fire, destroying it.

The current statue stands in the area between the exposition's Electricity and Administration Buildings (both demolished after the exposition), now an intersection, where Richards Drive joins Hayes Drive.

The statue is referred to by Chicago historians by the colloquial name of the "Golden Lady." It was designated a Chicago Landmark on June 4, 2003.

T.A. Chapman Memorial

T.A. Chapman Memorial is a public artwork by American artist Daniel Chester French. It is located at 2405 W. Forest Home Ave., in the Forest Home Cemetery Section 33 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States. The bronze sculpture was cast in 1896. Its dimensions are 62 x 41 x 23 in. The concrete base it stands on is 13 ½ x 21 7/8 x 14 3/8 in.

The Spirit of Life

The Spirit of Life is a sculpture by American sculptor Daniel Chester French.

William Henry Seward Memorial

The William Henry Seward Memorial is located along Main Street (NY 17A/94) in downtown Florida, New York. It commemorates the life of Seward, a Florida native whose career in public service culminated with his tenure as Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln, in which capacity he negotiated the purchase of Alaska from Russia.

It consists of a bronze bust of Seward by Daniel Chester French, who also sculpted Lincoln seated at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, set in the middle of a small circular plaza with benches designed by Richard Henry Dana III. Just behind it is S. S. Seward Institute, the local secondary school, named after Seward's father. It was unveiled September 24, 1930, and restored in 2000 after being added to the National Register of Historic Places the year before.

In 2007 the memorial was vandalized. Seward's bust was shifted and one of the benches cracked.

Wisconsin (statue)

Wisconsin is a statue on top of the Wisconsin Capitol Building created by Daniel Chester French.

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