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French, Daniel Chester (1850-1931)

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Daniel Chester French

French at work in his studio. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-44598).

Ralph Waldo Emerson helped Daniel Chester French, America’s best known sculptor, secure his first big commission: the Minute Man statue in Concord celebrating the centennial of the first battle of the American Revolution. President Grant and 10,000 people attended its unveiling on April 19, 1875.

French created the statues of General Grant in Philadelphia, of General Washington in Paris, and of John Harvard in the Harvard Yard, Cambridge. Surpassing them all is the eighteen foot high marble revelation of Abraham Lincoln seated in quiet majesty in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.

In 1969 French’s daughter Margaret gave his estate, Chesterwood, to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The studio of the Unitarian sculptor is open to the public at Stockbridge in the Berkshires.