James Earl Fraser (1878 - 1953) was born  in Winona Minnesota but at the age of 3 his family moved to Mitchell South Dakota.  Fraser grew on the American plains and as a young man saw first hand the native American Indians struggle to survive. His first venture into art came with the discovery that the clay at the local chalkstone query could be molded into figures of people and animals.  These clay sculptures by the young Fraser were acclaimed by all who saw them, giving him the early inspiration to become a sculptor. At the age of 15 the family moved to Chicago just as the Colombian Exposition was opening.  Fraser attended the Fair at every opportunity, drinking in the sculptures of the famous artists that were exhibited there.  About this same time James enrolled in the Art Institute of Chicago with the whole hearted desire to become an artist.  While apprenticing at the studio of Richard Brock, Fraser made the first model of The End of the Trail which was to become his most famous sculpture.

Fraser traveled to Paris in 1894, taking his model of End of the Trail with him. He enrolled at The Ecole des Beaux-Arts, the Academe Julian, and the Academe Colarossi. 1898 saw Fraser's first Salon Exhibit titled Head of an Old Man, winning the American Artist's Association prize. Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who by then was one of the Salon Judges, was so impressed by the young Fraser's work that he made Fraser an assistant in his Paris studio.  Fraser continued to work with Saint-Gaudens for the next 2 years in Paris.  Upon his return to the United States in 1900 Fraser continued to work with Saint-Gaudens at  his Cornish New Hampshire studio. A year later, while still with Saint-Gaudens,  Fraser received his first public commission to design a medal to honor Saint-Gaudens at the Buffalo New York, Pan-American Exposition.  So taken by Fraser's work were the organizers of that event that a second commission was awarded.

In 1902 James Earl Fraser Moved to Greenwich Village where his artistic neighbors included Daniel Chester French, Edwin Deming, and Gertrude Vanderbuilt Whitney.  Fraser became an immediate success, receiving two monumental commissions for the St. Louis Exposition.  He took a teaching position at the Art Students League in New York City where he taught until 1911. At was at the Art Students League where he met a fellow sculpture instructor, Laura Garden.  They were married in 1913 and moved to Westport Connecticut where a separate studio was built for both artists to work in. Fraser was to have many public commissions for sculptures of famous political and social patrons.  His bust of Teddy Roosevelt for the US Senate and later a  Monument of Roosevelt at Santiago Cuba were publicly acclaimed. Fraser designed the 1913 buffalo nickel for the US Treasury Department and in 1915 he was to receive the commission for his most famous work, The End of the Trail for the San Francisco Exposition. In 1917 Fraser was awarded the commission for a monument to Alexander Hamilton for the US Treasury Building.  James Earl Fraser was to receive numerous public commissions in his lifetime. 

The life of James Earl Fraser is documented in the following books:

 Bronzes of the American West by Patricia Broder (1973)
American Sculpture by The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1965)
Dictionary of American Sculptors by Glenn Opitz 
Masters of American Sculpture by Donald M. Reynolds

Select any Image below to see a description and more information about that Bronze


Click this image to view the James Earl Fraser Indian Maiden bronze sculpture

Click this image to view the James Earl Fraser Bear bronze sculpture