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As a young sculptor in Concord, Daniel Chester French hoped to secure portrait commissions and advance his career. In 1879, he convinced Ralph Waldo Emerson to sit for him over thirty times throughout the year and the resulting bust is arguably the best portrait sculpture, and perhaps the best portrait overall, of the famous writer. After French completed the clay bust of Emerson, it was cast in plaster, the replicas of which sold for thirty dollars each. The bust was later carved in marble and cast in bronze.