Bernie Cleff photographs of monuments by Daniel Chester French

Collection ID:
Cleff, Bernie, b. 1927
Physical Description:
0.5 Linear feet
(ca. 1300 photonegatives)
The collection is comprised of approximately 1,300 photonegatives taken by noted Philadelphia photographer Bernie Cleff (b. 1927) documenting the work of American sculptor Daniel Chester French.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The collection contains approximately 1,300 photonegatives and some selected prints taken by Bernie Cleff in 1975-1976, documenting the sculpture by Daniel Chester French. Cleff was commissioned to take the photographs in conjunction with an exhibition of the sculptor's works organized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In addition to the photographic images, the collection also includes the the photographer's handwritten log notes.
Sixteen of Daniel Chester French's outdoor monuments are captured in detail in the collection, including:
  • Abraham Lincoln, (Lincoln, NE)
  • Alma Matter, (New York, NY)
  • Brooklyn and Manhattan, (Brooklyn, NY)
  • First Division Memorial, (Washington, DC)
  • Four Continents, (New York, NY)
  • Francis Parkman Memorial, (Jamaica Plain, MA)
  • John Harvard, (Cambridge, MA)
  • Lincoln Memorial, (Washington, D.C.)
  • Martin Millmore, (Boston, MA)
  • Melvin Memorial, (Concord, MA)
  • Minute Man, (Concord, MA)
  • Russell Alger Memorial, (Detroit, MI)
  • Richard Morris Hunt Memorial, (New York, NY)
  • Samuel F. Dupont Memorial, (Washington, D.C.)
  • Spencer Trask Memorial, (Saratoga Springs, NY)
  • Thomas Gallaudet Memorial, (Washington, D.C.)

Collection has largely been retained in original order - organized primarily by format - 8x10 negatives (with contact prints); 4x5 negatives (with contact prints); 35 mm slides; and 91 rolls of 35 mm film strips (with contact proof prints).

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
H. Bernard (Bernie) Cleff, born 1927, is a native Philadelphian. After serving in the Navy, he graduated in 1950 from the Philadelphia College of Art (now known as the University of the Arts) and taught photography there from 1961 to 1971. A life member of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), Cleff specialized in aerial, editorial, corporate, advertising and architectural photograpy.
His work has appeared in such periodicals such as: AIA Journal, Business Week, Forbes, Fortune, National Sculpture Review, New York Times Sunday Magazine, Smithsonian andVenture. His photographs of sculpture have also been published in numerous books, including Fairmount Park Art Association's Sculpture of a City: Philadelphia's Treasures in Bronze and Stone, New York: Walker Publishing Co., 1974.

Christine Hennessey
Processing Information
Received in 2008, the collection originally included 91 rolls of film, accompanied by some contact sheets, black-and-white study prints (4x5 and 8x10) and a few 4x5 negatives. Some of the film strips arrived with images already cut-out (those previously selected for the exhibition publication).
At the request of the photographer, selected negatives showing models of Daniel Chester French's works and other images shot at the French's studio in Chesterwood were separated from the collection and given to The Athenaeum (Philadelphia, PA). The Smithsonian American Art Museum retained all images of outdoor monuments and memorials.
A revised inventory was compiled after the separation of the collection and minimal level processing completed.
Separated Materials
Photographs of Daniel Chester French's sculpture models housed at Chesterwood also taken by Bernie Cleff for the 1976 National Trust exhibition were separated from this collection at the request of the photographer and given to The Athenaeum (Philadelphia, PA) in 2008.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of H. Bernard (Bernie) Cleff, 2008.

Photographs for:
Richman, Michael. Daniel Chester French: An American Sculptor, New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY) in association with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, 1976.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Bernie Cleff Collection, Photograph Archives, Smithsonian American Art Museum
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research use in the Photograph Archives, Smithsonian American Art Museum. Advance appointments are required.
Publication Rights
Copyright to photographs from the Bernie Cleff collection is held by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Requests for permission to reproduce photographs from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Photograph Archives.

More Information

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Art, American Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sculpture, American Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
French, Daniel Chester, 1850-1931 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Research and Scholars Center
PO Box 37012, MRC970
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012