The Life of Daniel Chester JOURNEY INTO FAME MARGARET FRENCH
CRESSON WITH A FOREWORD BY WALTER PRICHARD EATON HARVARD UNIVERSITY
PRESS Cambridge, Massachusetts 1947 COPYRIGHT, 1947 BY THE
PRESIDENT AND FELLOWS OF HARVARD COLLEGE PRINTED IN THE UNITED
STATES OF AMERICA Daniel Chester French, by Margaret French
Cresson, Hall of American Artists, New York University For Penn IN
SWEET REMEMBRANCE OF THE HAPPY YEARS FOREWORD IT WAS ONCE my good
fortune to live for several years in Stockbridge when Daniel
Chester French was one of the most distinguished and best loved of
its summer residents. His daughter, the author of this book, was a
gay and highly personable young lady at an earlier point of history
I sus pect she would have been described as dashing who fre quently
converted her fathers large studio into a scene of revelry, with
the work-in-progress shoved into a corner un der a sheet, and the
guests in fancy costumes. Perhaps she will forgive me if I confess
that I was not the only person a bit surprised when the news got
around that Peggy French was herself working hard at sculpture. Do
you I asked her father, somewhat fatuously no doubt, criticize
Margarets work In his soft, gentle voice he replied, Freely. That
settled everything, including me, with true Yankee brevity. I was
again a victim when I was exhibiting to Mr. French a new garden I
had fashioned. In this garden was a wall foun tain, the water
spouting from a marble replica of a Greek mask of tragedy. When I
say a replica, I mean that you could recognize the intention. I cut
it myself from a piece of marble secured from the local tombstone
yard, and took great satis faction, indeed pride, in the fact that
visitors unpromptedknew what it was meant to be. Mr. French said I,
standing beside this work of my hands, Until I carved this I didnt
know I was a sculptor. viii FOREWORD Do you now said he. Mr.
Frenchs wit was like that He could be almost as laconic as the late
Mr Coohdge His speech was not nasal, but cultivated and soft, yet
it could be dry and shafted like an arrow But I venture to say he
never hurt anyone Before the shaft was loosed there was always the
play of a smile around his eyes. He may have pricked a bubble, but
instantly you knew it for a bubble and smiled, too. That was not
because he was a man of keen perceptions and ripe judgment, or one
who used his eminence to strike from, his humor was kind and
sympathetic, not prankish or self-exhibitionary It was an
expression of his genial relationship to his fellows, always with
the mutual understanding that a sham is a sham I have often
regretted that the discrepancy in our ages as well as my own
ignorance of his problems as an artist made me hesitate to attempt
any talk with Mr. French about his work There were certain
questions I should like especially to have put to him because,
difficult as it was to realize as you talked with this alert,
active artist well into the twentieth century, Mr. French actually
stemmed directly out of the Concord of Alcott and Emerson. His
first major statue, and still one of his best known, came into
being on the same spot as Emersons shot heard round the world and
re-celebrated the same event. His Minute Man stands by the rude
bridge and the youth, scarce out of his teens, who made it, though
he went from Concord into larger fields, went with some precious
heritage, surely, of the peculiar spiritual alert ness ofthat
community and of its dominant genius, Emerson, who of course was
young Dannys friend Could even he himself have told the relation of
this heritage to his art Per haps not, but I have always regretted
that I was too diffident to inquire...
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