Daniel Chester French (April 20, 1850 – October 7, 1931) was an American sculptor.
His best-known work is the sculpture of a seated Abraham Lincoln (1920) in Washington, D.C.
After a year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, French worked on his father’s farm. You can see that to him, family was very important when you visit the family farm which later became his summer house & studio.
President Obama spoke about Daniel Chester French during his remarks at the America’s Promise Alliance Education Event on March 1, 2010.
The reference to French came at the end of the President’s speech:
About a man named George Ellis, who lived about a hundred years ago. And George Ellis was a janitor. His job was to clean up after the artist Daniel Chester French. Some of you may have heard of French — he’s the one who carved the figure of Abraham Lincoln for the Lincoln Memorial.
So day after day, week after week, month after month, Ellis went about his job, barely uttering a word to Mr. French, other than say the occasional “hello” or “goodbye.” And then one day, just when French had nearly completed his masterpiece, Ellis spoke up. He said, “Mr. French, I have a question for you.” So the artist said, “What is it?” “Well, what I want to ask is how you knew all along that Mr. Lincoln was sitting inside that block of marble.”
This wasn’t a silly question. Because sometimes in this country and in our lives, we see blocks of marble and some people can see what’s inside and some people can’t. It was a question profound — it was a profound question about how we recognize the potential within each of us, and chisel away at what’s keeping it locked inside.
His most striking piece for me and many others, though it never sold and remains on view
At the studio on the property is his “Andromeda”
Princess Andromeda sacrificed herself to save her native city. Chained to a rock, she awaits the terrible sea-monster, unaware of the fact that Perseus on his winged horse is coming to her rescue. A stunning Art Nouveau piece.