A Heritage of Beauty

As a young sculptor in Concord, Massachusetts, French absorbed Ralph Waldo Emerson’s ideas about Nature, the Soul, and Beauty, and he translated this philosophy into bronze and marble masterpieces. Emerson not only posed for French, but he also provided a model for living. At Chesterwood, French’s summer residence beginning in 1896, the sculptor strove to emulate Emerson’s generous spirit, leading the respectable life of an artist and family man.

The cradle of Transcendentalism in Concord had informed French’s artistic sensibility, the aesthetic of his studios, his purposeful life surrounded by family and friends, and his most iconic public monuments.  French died at Chesterwood in 1931 and was buried in Concord’s Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. His gravestone is inscribed, “A Heritage of Beauty.”

bronze bust of Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson, by Daniel Chester French, 1879; this cast, 1915.

Parian porcelain, Concord Museum, Gift of the Cummings Davis Society

Flying Dove, by Daniel Chester French, about 1874.

Laurel Wreath

French died at Chesterwood in 1931 and was buried in Concord’s Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, not far from Emerson, Thoreau, and the Alcotts.

To Learn More

Read Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Nature.

Learn about the childhood friendship of Daniel Chester French and ornithologist William Brewster.

Visit Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts.

 

Background photo credit: Chesterwood

Photo credits: David Bohl; Carol Haines