Chesterwood, Boston Athenaeum join forces for new exhibit opening Oct. 7 in Boston

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STOCKBRIDGE >> Chesterwood and Boston Athenaeum have collaborated on a new exhibition, "Daniel Chester French: The Female Form Revealed," opening Oct. 7 in Boston, where it will be on view through Feb. 19.

There will be an opening reception, 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Oct. 6 at the Boston Athenæum at 10½ Beacon St. The event is free of charge and open to the public. Reservations are not required.

"Daniel Chester French: The Female Form Revealed" explores French's representation of the female figure primarily through a group of preliminary models and studies, created not only for major public commissions, but also for a number of his more intimate and personal works.

The approximately 50 works in the exhibition are from Chesterwood's collection, along with a work recently acquired by the Boston Athenæum. Many of the works in the show have never before been exhibited to the public.

The exhibition is co-curated by David B. Dearinger, director of exhibitions and Susan Morse Hilles, senior curator of paintings & sculpture at the Boston Athenæum, and Donna Hassler, director of Chesterwood and administrator of the Historic Artists' Homes and Studios Program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

For nearly half a century, from the late 1870s to the late 1920s, French (1850-1931) was America's foremost sculptor of public monuments. His outdoor masterpieces can be seen in the cosmopolitan centers of New York, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, and Washington, D.C., as well as in smaller American towns such as Concord, Mass., Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and Lincoln, Neb. French's projects adorn civic spaces including New York's Central Park, Boston's Public Garden, and Washington's Dupont Circle; are focal points on college and university campuses at Harvard, Columbia, Bowdoin, and Gallaudet; enhance the facades of grand Beaux-Arts structures such as the United States Custom House in New York, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Boston Public Library; and are focal points in some of this country's great historic cemeteries such as Woodlawn in New York, Graceland in Chicago, and Forest Hills in Boston.

Many of French's public works depict or otherwise commemorate historical figures. These range from his heroic allegory, "The Minute Man," created in 1875 for the town of Concord, to grand-manner portraits, such as the colossal figure of Abraham Lincoln, executed in 1922 for the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. French's fame for these male-oriented masterpieces is well deserved, but in fact he was equally proficient at modeling the female figure, especially in its classicizing, idealized form.

"This aspect of his career has been little studied," said Hassler in a news release. "Our goal with this exhibition is to help fill that gap in the scholarship of Daniel Chester French's oeuvre."

An illustrated catalogue will accompany "Daniel Chester French: The Female Form Revealed," with an essay by Dr. Dearinger and a checklist of the exhibition's contents. The exhibition will be complemented by a series of lectures, curator-led gallery talks, and an online version of the installation.

The exhibition and its published catalogued are made possibly by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Chesterwood, a 122-acre site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation at 4 Williamsville Road, was French's summer home, studio and gardens.

Complete information is available online at chesterwood.org or by phone at (413) 298-3579.


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