Daniel Chester French was an American sculptor of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He is best known for his design of the monumental statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.
French was born in New Hampshire, moving to Massachusetts at a young age. He was neighbors and friends with Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Alcott family. His decision to pursue sculpting as a career was heavily influenced by Louisa May Alcott’s sister, May.
His earliest education included anatomy training with William Rimmer and drawing with William Morris Hunt. He studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and spent several years in Florence Italy, studying with Thomas Ball. Upon returning to the United States he established his own studio in Washington D.C., moved to Boston and eventually ending up in New York City.
In 1893, he was a founding member of the National Sculpture Society. He also became members of many preexisting groups such as National Academy of Design, the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Architectural League, among others.
In 1917 he and his colleague designed the Pulitzers Prize gold medal. He worked on various public service projects and was commissioned by the Association of Public Art Association an equestrian statue of Joseph Hooker in Boston.
He died in Stockbridge Massachusetts in 1931 at age 81.