Chesterwood’s 2013/2014 artist-in-residence, Stockbridge photographer Julie McCarthy turns her lens on the possessions and surroundings of Margaret “Peggy” French Cresson, the only child of famed sculptor Daniel Chester French. An accomplished portrait sculptor in her own right, Margaret, born in 1889, lived at Chesterwood in the summer months from the time she was a little girl until her death in 1973.
The exhibition, An Oasis of Beauty on view in the residence at Chesterwood from May 24 through October 13, alludes to both the physical beauty of Chesterwood and to Margaret’s personal sense of art and beauty.
“Artists have a way of looking at the world that is different from ours,” said Executive Director Donna Hassler. “Julie McCarthy was interested in learning more about French Cresson’s life at Chesterwood and her detailed photographs and photomontages capture Peggy’s sense of decorum and style in the place she called “home” for many years.”
Margaret loved beautiful clothes and decorated Chesterwood, particularly her bedroom, in various shades of ladylike pink. She entertained frequently and by all accounts loved a good party.
Had it not been for Margaret’s efforts, Chesterwood, named “an oasis of beauty” by Daniel Chester French, would not have been preserved for future generations. In 1968, she ceded the property and its collections (with the exception of her family home, Daniel Chester French’s residence, to which she retained life rights) to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.