Chesterwood presents lecture exploring Daniel Chester French’s pivotal role at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Chesterwood will present One of the Greatest Interests of His Life: Daniel Chester French and The Metropolitan Museum of Art with guest speaker Dr. Thayer Tolles, Marica F. Vilcek Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, on Sunday, June 12 at 4 p.m. at The Stockbridge Library, 46 Main St. A reception will follow at Chesterwood. Admission is $25 for the general public and $20 for Chesterwood members. For tickets, contact Lisa Reynolds at or call 413-298-2034.

“We are very excited to present Dr. Tolles’ talk about Daniel Chester French and his longtime involvement with The Metropolitan Museum of Art. It sheds new light on French’s prominent career as the ‘Dean of American Sculpture’, particularly as it relates to New York,” said Donna Hassler, executive director of Chesterwood. “Every October French moved from Chesterwood, his summer home and studio in Stockbridge, to New York for six months of the year, where he was very involved in the art world during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.”

Daniel Chester French arrived in New York City for artistic training in 1870, the same year that The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded. Over the coming decades, the sculptor and the museum established themselves as leaders in the production and collection of art respectively. French is well recognized for such New York monuments as Alma Mater at Columbia University and The Continents for the Customs House at Bowling Green, but lesser known is his remarkable contribution of time and talent to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The lecture will explore French’s pivotal role in the formation of the Metropolitan’s modern sculpture collection during his nearly three-decade tenure as a trustee, with special attention to works in the collection by Auguste Rodin, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Paul Manship, and French himself.

Dr. Thayer Tolles is the Marica F. Vilcek Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. A sculpture specialist, she served as editor and co-author of a two-volume catalogue of the Metropolitan’s historic American sculpture collection (1999, 2001). Among her exhibitions are Augustus Saint-Gaudens in The Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009) and The American West in Bronze, 1850-1925 (2013-15), both accompanied by publications. Tolles participated in extensive ongoing renovations to the Metropolitan’s American Wing between 2001 and 2012 reinstalling the sculpture in the Charles Engelhard Court and the second-floor galleries.


Daniel Chester French Sculptures (Flickr)

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