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Chesterwood will mark the centennial anniversary of the Lincoln Memorial with the premiere of a documentary about its creator, sculptor Daniel Chester French, followed by a panel discussion and reception, at the Mahaiwe, Thursday, May 26. Photo courtesy the Mahaiwe.

STOCKBRIDGE, The Berkshire EdgeChesterwood, a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, will mark the centennial anniversary of the Lincoln Memorial with the premiere of a documentary film that explores the life and work of Daniel Chester French (1850–1931), sculptor of the iconic Abraham Lincoln seated beneath architect Henry Bacon’s Parthenon-inspired temple in Washington, D.C.

Written and directed by award-winning filmmaker Eduardo Montes-Bradley of the Heritage Film Project, “Daniel Chester French: American Sculptor” will serve as an educational tool, build a worldwide audience for French’s work, and introduce the public to Chesterwood, French’s summer home, studio, and gardens. The film is set to premiere May 26 at 7 the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington as part of several nationwide centennial commemorative events. Opening remarks will be presented by Michael Bobbitt, executive director of the Mass Cultural Council and honorary chair of the event. The screening will be followed by a scholarly panel discussion and a benefit dessert reception. Tickets to both the screening and reception are on sale at the Mahaiwe website.

The film will include interviews with several French scholars, including Michael Richman, the curator of the first major exhibition and catalogue of French’s work, and Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer, author of the recently published biography “Monument Man: The Life and Art of Daniel Chester French.” This is the first-ever documentary to focus on French, including his formative years studying with May Alcott, his neighbor in Concord, Massachusetts; apprenticing with American sculptor Thomas Ball in Florence, Italy; establishing a studio in Greenwich Village; and finding his true creative home at Chesterwood. The film will look at the aesthetic and political significance of French’s hundreds of public sculptures, such as the Minute Man in Concord, the John Harvard at Harvard University, the Alma Mater at Columbia University, the Richard Morris Hunt Memorial on Fifth Avenue in New York City, the General George Washington on the Place d’Iléna in Paris, and the universally known seated Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial.

Immediately following the film screening, Montes-Bradley will be joined by Holzer and American art scholar Dr. Thayer Tolles to discuss the film. Dr. Tolles is the Marcia F. Vilcek Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she served as editor and co-author of a two-volume catalogue of the Museum’s historic American sculpture collection.

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