Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)
Plaster painted to simulate weathered bronze
Overall: 31 1/2 x 25 x 15 in. ( 80 x 63.5 x 38.1 cm )
Signature: signed on proper left side of base: "D. C. FRENCH Sc." Inscription: back of bust: "NATHANIEL HAWTHRONE/JULY 4, 1804- MAY 18, 1864"
Hawthorne, one of America's most famous authors of the mid-19th century, was born in Salem, Massachusetts. After graduating from Bowdoin College he wrote numerous essays and stories, but general recognition came only with the publication of his Twice-Told Tales (1837 and 1842) and Mosses from an Old Manse (1846); these were followed by The Scarlet Letter (1850) and The House of the Seven Gables (1851). For a while Hawthorne lived at Concord, Massachusetts, where he was a part of the literary circle of Alcott, Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Channing. President Franklin Pierce appointed Hawthorne consul at Liverpool, England (1853-57), and he spent 1858-59 in Italy, where he obtained the material for The Marble Faun (1860) and wrote his Italian Notebooks (1872). A description of Hawthorne was published in Appleton's Cyclopedia (3, 1888, 129): "His face was singularly handsome and romantic, the outline full and rounded, the features symmetrical and strong, the brow broad and massive, and the whole refined head powerful and poetic. His manner was that of a shy man, but it was self-possessed and never familiar. . . . In conversation he talked quietly without effusiveness or ardor. He lived habitually within himself, and seemed, as his son Julian said, to find no better society." Hawthorne had died about a decade before young Daniel Chester French first began to model sculptures at his father's home in Concord, Massachusetts, so the artist did not have the opportunity to model the subject from life. There were several portraits of Hawthorne from which to obtain a likeness, however, such as the Bennoch photograph or painted portraits by Charles Osgood (1840) and Cephas G. Thompson (1850), which were owned by members of the author's family. A sculptured bust by Louisa Lander, executed in Rome, was in the Concord Public Library, and the bas-relief by Edward Kuntze had been in the collection of The New-York Historical Society since 1868. The original marble bust by French, profoundly sensitive and quietly romantic, was placed in the Hall of Fame at New York University in 1925, one of several portrait busts of eminent Americans made by French for that collection.
Gift of Mrs. William Penn Cresson (Margaret French)
Mrs. William Penn Cresson (Margaret French), daughter of the artist -the original bust is in the Hall of Fame, New York University, 1925
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.