Abraham Lincoln, seated, right leg extended, gazes pensively across the reflecting pool of the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Nineteen feet tall, Lincoln’s statue was constructed from twenty-eight blocks of Georgian marble by the Piccarelli brothers working from a six foot tall model created by Daniel Chester French, one of America’s greatest and most prolific sculptors. French created the model at Chesterwood, his Stockbridge Mass. studio- today a National Trust Historic Site and the destination of August’s HCP-PCA drive and dine event.
French was born in New Hampshire in 1850. By the time he and his wife purchased their 150 acre Stockbridge farm in 1896, he had already gained prominence for works which included the
Minuteman statue in Concord Mass and the Statue of the Republic created for the 1893 Columbian exposition in Chicago. Although he had a New York City studio, French commissioned architect and friend Henry Bacon to design another for him on his farm. This became his primary workspace. Later, in 1901, French hired Bacon to design a Georgian-style home that replaced the original 1820 farmhouse on the property. The studio and house are surrounded by rolling fields, wooded paths and beautiful gardens.
Led by a knowledgeable guide who has escorted dignitaries including former first lady Laura Bush, Club members walked Chesterwood’s grounds, viewed the house, and visited the studio where French created the model for the Lincoln memorial in 1920. The tour started in the Barn Gallery where a sculptural study of what was to become the Spirit of Life statue in Saratoga’s Congress Park is on display. Providing an interesting contrast to French’s work was a collection of twenty-four contemporary sculptures created by members of the Boston Scupltors Gallery. Spread throughout the grounds, the mixed-media works are on display until Columbus Day when Chesterwood closes for the season.
The tour over, club members made a short drive to the venerable Red Lion Inn for lunch. A Stockbridge institution, the Inn has been in continuous operation for over two-hundred years. With its distinctive white columns and long open porch, the Red Lion does things the old-fashioned way- food arrived at the table protected by domed, metal covers.
All in all, a great drive and dine- thanks to Donna and Tom who organized the event.
More Chesterwood Photos…