© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

A study for the Spencer Trask Memorial in Saratoga Springs, New York, this bronze reveals Daniel Chester French’s idealizing approach to commemorative sculpture. In 1913, Katrina Trask commissioned a memorial in the city’s Congress Park in honor of her late husband. French, celebrated for his ability to design civic sculpture that sat harmoniously in its context, proposed this winged female with a bowed head and gently outspread arms. Placed within a large limestone niche at the end of a rectangular reflecting pool, its form would have actively engaged with its architectural setting, responding to the semicircular walls surrounding it. Ultimately, French abandoned this design in favor of a more dynamic composition. He created several versions of this earlier proposal, however, which suggests his dedication to its artistic principles.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Daniel Chester French, American (Exeter, NH 1850 - 1931 Glendale, MA)
Spirit of the Waters
Other Titles
Former Title: Fountain Figure: A Winged Female
Work Type
Creation Place: North America, United States
Level 2, Room 2130, European and American Art, 17th–19th century, The Pre–Raphaelites and Their Legacy
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Physical Descriptions
82.6 x 63.5 x 31.8 cm (32 1/2 x 25 x 12 1/2 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: back of base: D.C. French 1914
  • inscription: on base: Roman Bronze Works NY
Purchased by Grenville L. Winthrop, 1914, bequest; to the Fogg Art Museum, 1943.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

Margaret French Cresson, Daniel Chester French, W. W. Norton & Company (New York, NY, 1947)

H. Wade White, "Nineteenth Century American Sculpture at Harvard, a Glance at the Collection", Harvard Library Bulletin (Cambridge, MA, October 1970), vol. XVIII, no. 4, p. 365

Kenyon Castle Bolton, III, Peter G. Huenink, Earl A. Powell III, Harry Z. Rand, and Nanette C. Sexton, American Art at Harvard, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1972), cat. 124, ill.

Michael Richman, Daniel Chester French: An American Sculptor, exh. cat., National Trust for Historic Preservation / Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY, 1976), pp. 139-140, ill.

Exhibition History

Annual Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture, [Unknown venue, Stockbridge MA], Stockbridge, 01/01/1914 - 12/31/1914

American Art at Harvard, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/19/1972 - 06/18/1972

Daniel Chester French: An American Sculptor, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 09/30/1977 - 11/30/1977

For Students of Art and Lovers of Beauty: Highlights from the Collection of Grenville L. Winthrop, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/16/2004

32Q: 2130 19th Century, Harvard Art Museums, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu