Artist: Daniel Chester French (American, Exeter, New Hampshire 1850–1931 Stockbridge, Massachusetts)
Date: 1886–87, revised 1909; carved 1917–19
Dimensions: 57 1/2 x 25 x 42 1/2 in. (146.1 x 63.5 x 108 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Henry Walters, 1919
Accession Number: 19.47
For nearly fifty years, French included the allegorical female form in both his private and public commissions. His involvement with Memory spanned more than three decades, from his initial clay sketch of 1886 to the exhibition of this enlarged marble in 1919. The finished version of Memory exhibits little compositional variation from the early sketch: a nude female reclining on a rock gazes into a round mirror in her left hand. The sculptor focused on conveying life's transience through symbolism: the motif of the mirror as well as the work's title suggest that the figure (and, by analogy, the viewer) is ruminating on the ephemeral nature of beauty, youth, and life. Memory was translated into Carrara marble by the Piccirilli Brothers of New York, who carved many of French's sculptures.