Lincoln scholar and prize-winning author Harold Holzer discusses his new biography of Daniel Chester French with Dr. Thayer Tolles, curator of American Paintings and Sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The artist who created the statue for the Lincoln Memorial, John Harvard in Harvard Yard, and The Minute Man in Concord, Massachusetts, Daniel Chester French (1850-1931) is America’s best-known sculptor of public monuments. Full of rich detail and beautiful archival photographs, Monument Man is a nuanced study of a preeminent artist whose evolution ran parallel to, and deeply influenced, the development of American sculpture, iconography, and historical memory.
Monument Man was specially commissioned by Chesterwood / National Trust for Historic Preservation to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of Chesterwood, his country home and studio, as a public site and with a major renovation of the Lincoln Memorial. The book includes a comprehensive geographical guide to French’s public work.
Harold Holzer, winner of The 2015 Gilder-Lehrman Lincoln Prize, is one of the country’s leading authorities on Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War era. A prolific writer and lecturer, and frequent guest on television, Holzer served for six years (2010–2016) as Chairman of The Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation. For the previous 10 years he co-chaired the U. S. Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission (ALBC), appointed by President Clinton. President Bush awarded Holzer the National Humanities Medal in 2008. And in 2013, Holzer wrote an essay on Lincoln for the official program at the re-inauguration of President Obama. He is now co-chairman of The Lincoln Forum.
Thayer Tolles is the Marica F. Vilcek Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Thayer Tolles joined the American Wing staff in 1992. A sculpture specialist, she served as editor and co-author of a two-volume catalogue of the Museum’s historic American sculpture collection (1999, 2001), participated in the department’s renovation and reinstallation between 2001 and 2012, and organized numerous exhibitions with accompanying catalogues, including Augustus Saint-Gaudens in The Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009) and The American West in Bronze, 1850–1925 (2013–15). A graduate of Williams College, she received her MA from the University of Delaware and her PhD from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
“Artist Biographies” is a joint program of The Mount, Chesterwood and the Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios Program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
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