The Angel of Death and the Sculptor, sculpted by Daniel Chester French, pays tribute to a fallen American sculptor, Martin Milmore, and challenges the usual representation of Death as the horrible gruesome presence that it has been represented to be ever since the Christian era. Through a combination of high-and-low relief and in-the-round sculpting, French makes you feel almost complacent in the company of death. The benevolent face on the angel of death and the intrigued look on the face of the man, who is replicated after Martin Milmore, faithfully drives home the idea of an untimely death to a well-known artist. Ultimately, what distinguishes this piece of artwork from others are “the way death is portrayed and the history behind the artistic decisions.” Daniel Chester French was commissioned in 1889 to create a funeral memorial for the Milmore Family after the unexpected death of Martin Milmore at the age of 39 from cirrhosis of the liver. When the younger brother of Martin, Joseph Milmore, passed away he called for the creation of a monument, which was “to commemorate the life of his older brother.” During his life Joseph was a stonecutter who was first taught by his brother, which is why he wanted to pay tribute to his brother in his will. Since Martin Milmore had been a celebrated sculptor, French decided to depict the artist at work with the Angel of Death interrupting his work. Ultimately, the Milmore Memorial was completed in 1893 and installed at Forest Hills Cemetery in a setting made by Henry Bacon. In 1915, French began plans for a version of the Milmore Memorial in marble. Coincidentally in 1917, French was asked by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City for a copy of the Milmore Memorial, which was completed in 1926. In 2009, the Museum’s copy of the Milmore Memorial was placed on the main floor of the newly renovated American Wing.
Housed in the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as you come upon The Angel of Death...
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