Tag Archives: Chesterwood

Muse + Sculptor

Cresson_GirlWithCurlsMargaret Cresson French

At Chesterwood, there are few sculptures by Daniel Chester French’s daughter Margaret on display. But the superb modeling and arresting expression of Girl with Curls make it  quietly magnetic. The anonymous subject of the life size Girl with Curls must have been a young woman Margaret knew, and was probably carved by the Piccirilli Brothers studio in the Bronx.

In 1921 Margaret married architect William Penn Cresson, and had one child who died in infancy. Whatever her private sorrow, Margaret found her life’s work through sculpture, as her father did.

Were it not for Margaret, we wouldn’t have Chesterwood and its storehouse of sculpture, maquettes, and tools. She worked hard to preserve her father’s legacy in many ways: writing a memoir, serving as tour guide, and ultimately leaving the estate to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. When her father was alive, she was both his model and student, the ultimate muse. In leaving Chesterwood to America, she added immeasurably to our knowledge of neoclassical sculpture.

Margaret French Cresson, August 3 1889 — October 1, 1973

Civic Goddesses

Daniel Chester French’s summer home and studio, Chesterwood, in Stockbridge, Mass. is a more inspiring place now than ever. Many of his studies and maquettes, long stored in the studio basement, are now displayed in a climate-controlled sub-gallery in the Barn visitors’ center. I saw much more than I can write about in one post, but I was struck first by these two maquettes symbolizing Manhattan and Brooklyn, studies for the monumental figures that were formerly on the Brooklyn Bridge. Manhattan, at left, definitely has attitude and wears a tiny city on her head. Brooklyn, on the other hand, is more relaxed, gazing into the distance, holding a book and seated amidst flowers. Read their saga here! #GoddessID

ManHBrook