Daniel Chester French
STOCKBRIDGE — “Finally!”
That was Donna Hassler’s exclamation as the first film about sculptor Daniel Chester French of Lincoln Memorial fame goes into production, written, directed and produced by veteran documentarian Eduardo Montes-Bradley.
“It is surprising that there has been no previous documentary,” said Hassler, executive director of the Chesterwood historic house, museum and sculpture garden, which she called “a sleeping giant that needed to be reimagined and reawakened.”
“My important role here has been to raise the visibility and profile of French and Chesterwood through various traveling exhibitions, articles and a definitive biography,” she said. “A film was one of those things waiting in the wings. Now, we’re the key adviser on the production, and there are many resources here. Chesterwood, headed by Hassler for 13 years, was French’s May-October home and studio from 1897 until his death there in 1931.
There, he sculpted the Lincoln Memorial in plaster. The 6-foot-high sculpture of the seated Lincoln statue was the model used to create the marble version in the nation's capital and it remains a major attraction of the museum’s collection. Montes-Bradley, with more than 40 titles to his credit, wondered whether the throngs flocking to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., were aware of the statue’s origin.