Stockbridge has long had an artistic mystique at the home of some of the most renowned writers and artists of the late 19th and 20th centuries. The Norman Rockwell Museum and Edith Wharton’s home, The Mount, are among the most visited sites in western Massachusetts.
But there is another gem located in Stockbridge. Chesterwood was once home to celebrated sculptor Daniel Chester French, whose iconic sculpture, the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., is among the most visited public sculpture in the United States. The magnificent 19-foot sculpture sits on an 11-foot pedestal inside the marble temple designed by architect Henry Bacon.
The sculpture had its origins at Chesterwood, the 122-acre estate where French spent his summers from 1898 until his death at age 81 in 1931. French worked on his sculptures in a large barn on the estate, where, to better understand how his works would be seen in natural light, he constructed a standard-gauge railroad track to roll them outdoors.
The studio/museum today holds what is probably the largest single collection of work by any American sculptor and has been painstakingly recreated as it would have looked when French was there. His Georgian Revival home is furnished with American and European decorative arts and paintings collected by the sculptor, giving a fascinating glimpse into the artist’s life and society. Woodland walks designed by French provide a backdrop for the annual contemporary sculpture exhibition.
This year’s exhibition opens June 16 and showcases works by 15 artists whose works directly respond to the environmental and aesthetic attributes of Chesterwood. Featured artists include Roberley Bell, Roger Bisbing, Isidro Blasco, Colin C. Boyd, Matt Crane, Couglas Culhane, Brian Kane and Michael Oatman, Matt LaFleur, Portia Munson, Derek Parker, Amy Podmore, Chrissy Scolaro, Amelia Toelke, and Deborah Zlotsky.
Chesterwood opens this weekend and will remain open daily through Columbus Day, 10AM to 5PM. There will be extended hours in July and August from 5-7PM with some public programming planned on these nights. For additional information please click on the link below.