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Bryant Baker
Pioneer Woman
modeled 1927, cast 1968
bronze
32 x 14 7/8 x 16 3/8 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the artist



The model for this sculpture was the winning entry in a 1926 competition to honor the pioneer woman. Commissioned by oil magnate E. W. Marland of Ponca City, Oklahoma, the original bronze, more than seventeen feet high, stands in a state park in that city today. In 1967, the artist recalled that the sculpture “grew out of my reading the many stories of James Fennimore Cooper when I was a boy, but the woman was to me the courageous character marching out, carrying all her worldly belongings, her Bible and her son—the man of tomorrow—to a new life. If I had used a model, the statue might have been Mrs. Smith or Mrs. Jones instead of the abstract, beautiful, ideal woman of the spirit of great faith and hope.”