Joe's Farewell

Artist: Daniel Chester French (American, Exeter, New Hampshire 1850–1931 Stockbridge, Massachusetts)

Date: 1872–73

Medium: Parian porcelain

Dimensions: 10 x 7 x 5 in. (25.4 x 17.8 x 12.7 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Charles Beekman Bull, in memory of her mother, Alice Hawke Reimer, 1957

Accession Number: 57.147


From 1870 until his departure for Italy in 1874, French modeled twenty-five decorative sculptures from which thousands of parian and painted-plaster reproductions were made and sold for a few dollars apiece. His decision to create small works for a primarily commercial end was influenced by the success of the plaster statuettes of John Rogers known as Rogers Groups. Several of French's efforts were inspired by the writings of Charles Dickens. "Joe's Farewell," from a passage in "Barnaby Rudge" (1841), reflects Joe Willet's trials and tribulations in his relationship with Dolly Varden. French closely followed the narrative in composing his group as Joe, smitten with Dolly, bids her farewell by the forge in her father's workshop. How many parian and painted-plaster reproductions of "Joe's Farewell" were produced has not been determined, but the group is one of French's best known early works.