Daniel Chester French

"The Milmore Memorial"

The monument Daniel Chester French created in memory of fellow sculptors Martin and James Milmore, is widely considered to be the finest funerary monument created by an American artist.

Martin Milmore (1844-1883) was a celebrated sculptor who created the Roxbury Soldier's Monument (1867) in Forest Hills Cemetery (where French's Milmore Memorial stands) and the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument (1877) which stands on Boston Common. Joseph Milmore (1841-1886) was a stonecutter who taught his brother the scupltor's art. Together, they created a stunning memorial to fallen Union soldiers (U.S. Civil War), a granite Sphinx which rests in Mount Auburn Cemetery (Cambridge, Massachusetts).

The untimely death of Martin Milmore at the age of 39 (from cirrhosis of the liver) was the inspiration for French's memorial monument to the two brothers. The memorial has come be known as "The Angel of Death and the Sculptor." After completion of the Milmore Memorial in 1893, French was commissioned to make a copy in marble for the Metropolitain Museum of Art in New York City, photos of which can be seen HERE.

French's depiction of death intervening in the young sculptor's work, with hand between his artistic endeavor and his chisel is monumental in its impact. The face of the angel, being benevolent rather than angry, and the startled look on the sculptor's face, lend to an image of immense power.

French had great difficulty with the setting for the memorial. The first pedestal, in place when the memorial was dedicated in August 1893, was by Boston architect C. Howard Walker. Walker had designed the pedestal for French's John Boyle O'Reilly monument but both the Milmore family and French himself were dissatisfied with the wah the monument was framed. A second setting was made by Henry Bacon in 1914, and a third setting, by the Boston firm of Andrews, Jones, Boscoe and Whitmore, was dedicated when the memorial was moved to its present location in 1945.

At the foot of the memorial is a bronze tablet with a poem by Milmore's sister:

Death and the sculptor
"Come, stay your hand," Death to the Sculptor cried
Those who are sleeping have not really died.
I am the answer to the stone your fingers
Have carved, the baffling riddle that stll lingers
Sphinz unto curious men. So do not fear
This gentle touch. I hold dark poppies here
Whose languid leaves of lethargy will bring
Deep sleep to you,and an incredible spring.
Come with your soul, from earth's still blinded
Mount by my hand the high.The timeless tower
Through me the night and morning are made one.
Your questions answered, your long vigil done,
Who am I? On far paths, no foot has trod.
Some call me Death, but others call me God.

The Milmore Memorial is located in Forest Hills Cemetery in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, near Boston. The memorial is beautifully situated near the main entrance of the cemetery.

All photos below were taken by Douglas Yeo in March 2003.

A frontal view of the Milmore Memorial.

A view of the "Angel of Death" with her stunning wings, deeply enveloping clothing, and benevolent manner.

A view of the startled sculptor, modeled after Martin Milmore, at the moment the "Angel of Death" calls him away.

The hand of the "Angel of Death," which comes between Milmore's "Sphinx" and his chisel.

A view from the right side of the memorial, showing the sculptor's posture and the mallet in his right hand.

Daniel Chester French's signature on the right, bottom of the Milmore Memorial, which reads, "D.C. French Stur (sculptor) 1891.

A view from the right, front of the memorial, showing the Milmore family name carved in the base of the setting.

Return to the Daniel Chester French: Sculptures In Situ page.

Unless otherwise noted, all text and graphics on this website [yeodoug.com] are ©1996-2013 by Douglas Yeo.
All rights reserved.