The Chesterwood Studio

By the 1890s, the towns of Lenox and Stockbridge in the western part of Massachusetts were populated with vacation homes for wealthy residents of New York and Boston. In 1896, while living in New York City, French purchased land in Stockbridge and commissioned architect Henry Bacon to design a studio on the foundation of a barn. Completed two years later, this hip-roofed building accommodated French’s full-scale public monuments in plaster.

The Chesterwood studio boasted roomy, sun-lit, and high-roofed work areas lined with shelves of plaster casts, studies, and small completed works. The adjoining low-ceilinged reception room was separated from the main room by curtains and included antique furniture, an artistic clutter of blankets, pillows, books, and decorations, and a “cozy corner” with a Pompeiian bed brought from the Concord studio.

At Chesterwood, French retained the “earth-bound as well as sky-bound” philosophy he absorbed in Concord. Enjoying a successful career, he continued to seek perfection and mastery of his art, yet he took pleasure in clipping hedges, growing grapes, and walking in the woods. The residence was well-suited for a steady stream of guests, including Concord friends and family, who visited during the summer months. French wrote of Chesterwood, “It is as beautiful as Fairyland here now… I go about in an ecstasy of delight over the loveliness of things.”

Chesterwood

Chesterwood, a Site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Sculptor Daniel Chester French is shown in his Chesterwood studio

Sculptor Daniel Chester French in his Chesterwood studio.

Watch home movies of friends and family at Chesterwood.

To Learn More

Read Dana Pilson’s blog about “A Day in the Life” at Chesterwood.

Teach using a Historic Places Lesson Plan about French’s Chesterwood Studio.

Enjoy Annie Leibovitz’s photograph taken at Chesterwood, in the August 2012 issue of Vogue.

Background photo credit: Chesterwood

Photo credits: Chesterwood