by George Reeves
The picture from the book was taken in 1952 at the foundry and was copied from the book The Sculpture of Frances Rich by Merle Armitage. The inscription on the plate reads:
The Firestone St. Frances of Assisi
Now at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, Palm Desert California 1972
It started its journey to St. Margaret’s in 1952.
This particular bronze was to be the personal one kept by Frances Rich herself. It was moved to her Santa Barbara studio where it stayed or was shown in a number of exhibitions.
After Irene and Frances bought the Shumway Ranch in June 1963 it was moved to this ideal studio.
In 1969 the Palm Springs Desert Museum had a retrospective on Frances Rich and the St. Frances was on display.
From a column in the local newspaper May 12, 1970 by Dorothy Watson “The Firestones saw the statue in Miss Rich’s retrospective exhibit in Palm Springs last fall. They wanted to buy it and place it where many people could enjoy it.”
At this point the story goes that Leonard Firestone tried to buy the bronze and Ms Rich told him it was her copy and it stayed at the Shumway Ranch. Mr. Firestone asked her how many people get to see it there and she replied ‘not many’.
At this point Mr. Firestone told her he thought it was rather selfish of her as it should be where many people could enjoy it. Miss Rich laughed and the deal was made.
She sold it to the Firestones and they in turn donated it to St. Margaret’s Church. It was dedicated December 5, 1970 by Bishop Bloy.
This bronze is 6 ft 7 inch in height and was cast in 1951 at the Nicci Foundry, Trastevere, Rome, Italy. It was one of 12 such castings done from the original clay sculpture. I believe that the St. Francis at St. Margaret’s is unit #3.
Frances Rich also did the bronze of St. Margaret our patron Saint located in the St. Margaret Chapel. The second one was taken by Father Brad Hall to Edinburgh Scotland in 1991 and it was given to the Cannongate Church and dedicated while Father Brad, Carol Hall, and other St. Margaret parishioners were still there.Last updated: July 17, 2013 at 6:12 am