Artist
Daniel Chester French
American sculptor

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Daniel Chester French
American sculptor
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Birth Date

April 20, 1850

Death Date

October 07, 1931

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Contributor

You know the one hundred and seventy-ton, nine-meter tall statue of Abraham Lincoln in Washington? That was Daniel Chester French.

To French, sculpting had been his lifelong calling. To what I can only imagine was the full support of his parents and no awkward dinner conversations, he dropped out of MIT to pursue his art full-time after only two semesters. The following four years of his life were filled with apprenticeships and lessons from an impressive array of artists including William Morris Hunt and William Rimmer.

Though having had understudied with accomplished period artists, French had yet to receive his first commission. It wasn’t until 1873 with the help and influence of his family friend Ralph Waldo Emerson (the 19th-century equivalent to Madonna and who I hope wore just as many cone-bras) that the city of Concord commissioned French to create The Minuteman to commemorate the Battle of Concord one hundred years prior. The monument was greeted by thousands during its reveal and propelled Daniel Chester French into sculptor fame.

After completing The Minuteman, French left for Florence in 1874 to study under Thomas Ball, ironically making French one of the last American sculptors to train in Italy instead of Paris. He returned to the United States and established studios in Concord, Boston, and Washington D.C. where he would spend the following decades of his life casually creating masterpieces which would become centerpieces of American history until the end of time.

The most notable of these sculptures is Abraham Lincoln which was created in concert with notable architect and French’s total bromance, Henry Bacon. The entire monument - including the building - took 11 years to complete and currently sits (pun intended) inside of the National Mall.

Six decades and dozens of monuments later, French had provided generous amounts of time and money to multiple galleries in the United States and abroad. These included the American Academy in Rome, the Art Students League, the National Arts Commission, and the National Sculpture Society. He also served as the Chairman of the Committee of Sculpture for the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1903 until his death in 1931 and was responsible for the powerful growth in the Museum’s collection of American sculptures. Take that, MIT!

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Here is what Wikipedia says about 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 statue of Abraham Lincoln (1920) in the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC.

Family

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)

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Daniel Chester French.