Alexander Phimister Proctor


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Sculptor. A specialist in depictions of animals, particularly the game of the American West, he also represented American Indians and other figural subjects. His finely detailed, tabletop bronzes intended for domestic interiors paralleled many monumental public commissions. Proctor was born in Bozanquit (or Bosanquet), in western Ontario, Canada, but grew up in Michigan, Iowa, and from 1871, Denver. There he developed a lifelong affection for outdoor life. In 1885 he left for New York, where he studied at the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League. Instruction from John Rogers aided his progress as a sculptor. He also studied animal anatomy. Proctor first attracted national attention with more than thirty life-size wild animals, as well as equestrian figures of a cowboy and an Indian, created for Chicago's World's Columbian Exposition of 1893. That fall he departed for Paris, where he studied with animal sculptor Denys Peuch. He returned to the United States the following year at the invitation of Augustus Saint-Gaudens to model the horse for the older sculptor's monument honoring General John A. Logan (Grant Park, Chicago, 1894–97). He soon repeated this task for Saint-Gaudens's even more splendid equestrian General Sherman Led by Victory. From 1895 to 1900 Proctor again studied and worked in Paris, where his work won praise at important exhibitions. Reestablished in New York, he completed many of his most important animal sculptures before leaving in 1914. He lived in Oregon and Idaho before settling four years later in Palo Alto, California. In subsequent years he received many commissions for public monuments, mostly located in western states. He lived in Europe again from 1925 to 1928, in Rome for two years, and then in Brussels. He died in Palo Alto. In their carefully detailed presentation of animal and human physiology and movement, his sculptures suggest the beauty, variety, and power of nature. His numerous buffalo, elks, panthers, and other large animals, as well as Indian themes, also celebrate the vanishing frontier West of his youth as a distinctive, vital, and particularly American locale. His autobiography appeared in 1971 as Alexander Phimister Proctor, Sculptor in Buckskin.

Subjects: Art.

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