Born in Springville, Utah, surrounded by the vast prairies of the West. Dallin’s beginnings seem far removed from the Anglo settlement of New England. His abiding respect for the past, however, would bring the artist to represent with dignity and respect both the native tribes and the early colonists of the United States. Dallin’s art training began in Boston in 1880, in tile studio of sculptor Truman Bartlett, during which time he also worked in a terra cotta factory. After two years be opened his own studio, modeling portraits and art equestrian statue of Paul Revere. In 1889, with same success behind him, he went to Paris, where he studied with Henri Chapu at the Académie Julian. He also spent time at Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, which came to Paris in 1889, sketching costumes and accessories of Native American participants. Many of these would serve as studies for a series of four equestrian statues of Native Americans. Dallin began the series before be returned to Boston in the early 1890s, and completed the final one, Appeal to the Great Spirit, in 1908. Late in life, Dallin executed ideal images of colonial file—commemorative plaques and figures in Pilgrim dress.
William H. Truettner and Roger B. Stein, editors, with contributions by Dona Brown, Thomas Andrew Denenberg, Judith K. Maxwell, Stephen Nissenbaum, Bruce Robertson, Roger B. Stein, and William H. Truettner Picturing Old New England: Image and Memory (Washington, D.C.; New Haven, Conn; and London: National Museum of American Art with Yale University Press, 1999)
Cyrus Dallin grew upon the frontier near the Ute Indian community. As a young boy, he and the Ute children fashioned miniature animals from the clay along the banks of Utah Lake. Dallin dreamed of becoming a sculptor, but his father would have none of it, making him sift ore in the local silver mine for a living. One day, when his crew hit a layer of white talc clay, Cyrus quickly sculpted two heads out of the soft material. His fellow miners were so amazed at his skill that they sent the sculptures to the local state fair in Salt Lake City. When the rich miner C. H. Blanchard saw the busts, he told Dallins father, “That boy ought to have a chance,” and paid for Dallin to move to Boston to study with the sculptor Truman Bartlett (Long,Dallin, Sculptor of Indians,The Worlds Work, September 1927). Dallin worked for the rest of his life in Massachusetts,where his sculptures of American Indians performing traditional rituals were popular among the city’s elites.