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James Monroe Highland presents Daniel Chester French: American Sculptor by Montes-Bradley.

Updated: Sep 15, 2023

Join us for a special event on Saturday, July 8, from 1-3 p.m. at James Monroe Highland, in Charlottesville, Virginia, for a screening of Daniel Chester French: American Sculptor, a documentary film by Eduardo Montes-Bradley. The documentary explores the life and work of one of America’s most renowned sculptors, best known for creating the statue of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial. The film also highlights the role of Attilio Piccirilli, the Italian-American sculptor who carved the marble statue of James Monroe that stands at Highland.

The screening is free and open to the public. It will be held in the lower level of the Highland Event Barn, followed by an introduction to The Italian Factor, a documentary project by Montes-Bradley about the Piccirilli Brothers and their contributions to the American Renaissance. The filmmaker will also answer questions from the audience. Please register for this event by emailing

Attilio Piccirilli
James Monroe by Attilio Piccirilli

French (1850-1931) was best known for his 1874 sculpture The Minute Man in Concord, Massachusetts, and his 1920 monumental statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. He was a leading figure of the American Renaissance, a period of artistic and cultural flourishing in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He designed over 200 monuments celebrating his era's American ideals and heroes. For more Information got to NYPL

James Monroe Highland and Daniel Chester French by Montes-Bradley

We will screen the documentary Daniel Chester French: American Sculptor by Eduardo Montes-Bradley, which offers a fascinating portrait of the master artist through archival footage, interviews, and stunning visuals. The film also reveals the close collaboration between French and the Piccirilli brothers, a Bronx-based family of Italian sculptors who realized almost all of French's designs. The stone carvers used traditional techniques to transform artists' plaster or clay models into marble.

Sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Memory, by Daniel Chester French

We will also preview selected scenes of The Italian Factor, a film in progress that will focus on the relationship between Italian artists and the American Renaissance. The film will explore how the Piccirilli contributed to some of the most iconic sculptures in America, such as the Lincoln Memorial, the New York Public Library lions, the Washington Square Arch, and the Maine Memorial.

The screening will be followed by a Q&A with filmmaker Montes-Bradley, who has written and directed over 40 documentary films available in academic and public libraries. He is best known for Black Fiddlers, Evita, The Other Madisons, and Rita Dove: American Poet.

The event will be presented by Eve Kahn, a former New York Times journalist, and author of Forever Seeing New Beauties: The Forgotten Impressionist Mary Rogers Williams.

Highland, A Virginia Landmark

Highland, formerly Ash Lawn–Highland, located near Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, and adjacent to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, was the estate of James Monroe, a Founding Father and fifth president of the United States. Purchased in 1793, Monroe and his family permanently settled on the property in 1799 and lived at Highland for twenty-five years. Personal debt forced Monroe to sell the plantation in 1825. Before and after selling Highland, Monroe spent much of his time living at the plantation house at his large Oak Hill estate near Leesburg, Virginia.

Monroe named his Charlottesville home "Highland". For many years after Monroe's death until 2016, the house was known as Ash Lawn-Highland or merely Ash Lawn.

The estate is now owned, operated and maintained by Monroe's alma mater, the College of William & Mary.

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