James Fraser ( 1876 – 1953 )
James Earle Fraser remains as one of the most important realist sculptors in American history. He was born in Minnesota but spent most of his life in the Western U.S., crossing the country by rail and experiencing the American West firsthand. His artistic talent was evident at a young age and he studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Ecole de Beaux-Arts and Acadmie Julian in France.
Fraser’s big break came when he served as an assistant to the legendary American sculptor; August Saint Gaudens. Fraser helped in Saint Gauden’s master outdoor sculpture; the Sherman Monument in New York City. He then began entering major expositions such as the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, the Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, and the World’s Fair in New York City to name just a few. Fraser went on to design the Indian Head and Buffalo nickel for the U.S. Treasury in 1912 and many other notable commissions such as the sculpture of Theodore Roosevelt on horseback for the front entry to the American Museum of Natural History in New York Ctiy.
End of the Trail remains as Fraser’s most famous work, showing the drama and tradgedy of the vanishing American West. Fraser originally conceived the idea for this sculpture as a student and developed it into a monumental plaster sculpture that was submitted to the 1915 San Francisco Exposition, where it earned him a gold medal. The original plaster measuring 18 feet high resides in the permanent collection of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. End of the Trail became so popular that Fraser did smaller versions of it.