James Earle Fraser (1876-1953)

American sculptor James Earle Fraser was exposed very early in life to frontier life and Native Americans. These memories inspired his artistic work, especially his two best-known works, the powerful sculpture The End of the Trail and the Indian Head/Buffalo Nickel.

Born in Winona, Minnesota, Fraser grew up watching his father, an engineer, work on the railroads as they expanded across the American West and pushed the Native Americans even further west onto confined reservations. Fraser began sculpting at his home in South Dakota, carving figures from limestone he found in a stone quarry nearby. Fraser received professional training in Chicago, New York and Paris, and studied sculpting under numerous masters of his time.

Fraser sculpted his most recognized sculpture, The End of the Trail, for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition held in San Francisco. This woeful sculpture was cast originally in plaster, because of bronze shortages due to the war. The image has since been recast in bronze and copied numerous times over.

Fraser s sculptures started out in the impressionistic style, with myriad details, into a 20th-century modernist style, with smooth lines and fewer details in the silhouettes and surfaces. Even when his style of realism was no longer considered posh, Fraser sculptures remained in high demand until his death in 1953.


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