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On Location in Richmond, Va

Updated: Jul 3, 2022

It was a good day in Richmond with David Dearinger. He did most of the talking about male and female figures in the sculptured work of Daniel Chester French. I didn’t know until then that the first “real” woman to have a statue dedicated in New York City was no other than Joan of Arc in 1915. In fact, it seems that only a handful of women, perhaps no more than six have been memorialized in marble or bronze in the city. Naturally this does not include the allegorical figures of Justice, Republic, Freedom, the Four Continents, Alma Matter and the glorify mythical beauties. But the fact that no statue was dedicated to an actual woman until 1915 and that it was dedicated to a French Catholic that empowered many of the attributes often depicting brave men and crusaders. The next one came about in 1984, it was dedicated to the Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, and I was there during the unveiling. So far, no American woman had been memorialized or recognized with a monument in New York. They will have to wait another ten years. First came Gertrude Stein (1992 – Bryant Park) and then Eleanor Roosevelt(1996 - Riverside Park). In 2008 that the city honored a Black woman with a memorial to Harriet Tubman, although she was placed in Harlem, at 122nd street. Interesting.



However, since the conversation was supposed to be about Daniel Chester French, I continued to explore in that direction and asked David for his thoughts “The female Form Reveled”, an essay he had written in 2016 for an exhibit of French’s works at the Boston Atheneum. Invariably, we were soon to derail again. Talking about French is like herding cats, threads of arguments will always pull in different directions making the conversation more than entertaining and educational at the same time. The dialogue with David will resume, most likely in the first weeks in February. By then I will certainly have other pieces of puzzle on the timeline of this new adventure that we call Daniel Chester French, a documentary in progress.


Daniel Chester French is a documentary film by Eduardo Montes-Bradley, produced with the support of Chesterwood, and The National Trust for Historic Preservation.






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