|Mark D. Ruffner, from U. S. postage|
Several years ago, I visited Chesterwood, the Massachusetts summer home and studio of Daniel Chester French (1850-1931). French is remembered primarily for two great statues he created, the seated Abraham Lincoln that resides within the Lincoln Memorial, and the Concord Minuteman, shown below.
By far, the real attraction at Chesterwood is French's studio, where the famous Lincoln statue was carved. Above, you can see at least three models for it (there's a small model at the foot of the largest one).
The room is essentially an enormous cube, with one side comprised almost entirely doors and skylights.
Now I'd like to turn your attention to the floor directly in front of those huge doors. Because French sculpted so many statues that were placed outside, he needed to see how they would look in natural light. He therefore designed that part of the floor to be a large, wheeled cart that could be rolled out into the sunlight on railroad tracks.
This is a photo by Douglas Yeo that shows the same view from the other side. You can read Douglas Yeo's own impression of Chesterwood and see more at Mr. Yeo's site, here.
An interesting problem arose as the Lincoln Memorial was finalized. It had been designed to have skylights, which would have cast shadows downward, as they appeared in French's studio. But the skylights were scrapped, thus allowing light to enter the memorial only horizontally. On top of that, light was also reflected upward from the floor, and so poor Abraham Lincoln looked strangely startled!
You can imagine that both the sculptor and architect were as surprised as Lincoln appeared to be, and hugely disappointed. Much time and effort was spent correcting the shadows through artificial lighting, so that today President Lincoln appears as that iconic face we all know.