James Earle Fraser


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Sculptor. Widely known for his design of the Indian Head/Buffalo nickel, he also achieved success as a portraitist and created many public monuments. Born in Winona, Minnesota, he lived as a child on a ranch in the Dakota Territory before moving with his family briefly to Minneapolis and then to Chicago. There he worked with German-born sculptor Richard Bock (1865–1949) and took classes at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. At seventeen, he modeled The End of the Trail (Cowboy Hall of Fame, Oklahoma City, 1894), a romantic evocation of American Indian plight. Depicting a weary brave on an equally exhausted pony, it became not only Fraser's best-known creation, but for a period of many years probably the most popular sculptural image in the United States. The following year Fraser left for Paris, where he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts with J.-A.-J. Falguière, as well as at the Julian and Colarossi academies. After assisting Augustus Saint-Gaudens for about three years in Paris, he continued to work for him in Cornish, New Hampshire. In 1902 Fraser settled in New York. In 1911 he designed the western imagery of the long-lived five-cent piece first issued two years later. In 1913 he purchased a Westport, Connecticut, summer home, which became his year-round residence in 1935. His wife, sculptor Laura Gardin Fraser (1889–1966), specialized in animal subjects and achieved distinction for the design of commemorative medallions. In addition, she executed a number of fountains and often assisted with her husband's monumental commissions. Born in Chicago, she trained for four years at the Art Students League, where her future husband numbered among her instructors. They married in 1913. Both died in Westport.

Subjects: Art.

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