James Earle Fraser

born Winona, MN 1876-died Westport, CT 1953
Media - J0001554_1b.jpg - 87671
James Earle Fraser in his studio with model for Albert Gallatin, © Peter A. Juley & Son Collection, Smithsonian American Art Museum J0001554
Also known as
  • James E. Fraser
Winona, Minnesota, United States
Westport, Connecticut, United States
  • American

Sculptor and assistant to Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Fraser designed the buffalo nickel and his End of the Trail (1915), an image of an exhausted Indian hunched over his tired horse, is one of the most recognized sculptures of the American West.

Joan Stahl American Artists in Photographic Portraits from the Peter A. Juley & Son Collection (Washington, D.C. and Mineola, New York: National Museum of American Art and Dover Publications, Inc., 1995)

Luce Artist Biography

When James Earle Fraser was four years old, his family moved to South Dakota, where he lived in a boxcar, slept on the floor wrapped in painted buffalo skins, and learned to make arrowheads from Sioux children. He began sculpting intensely after he spoke to his neighbor, an amateur sculptor, and found out about a stone quarry near his house where he could find plenty of slabs to carve. He eventually studied in France, where he was awarded one thousand dollars from the American Art Association of Paris. He was commissioned to create sculptures for the Supreme Court, Archives, and Department of Commerce buildings, as well as historical, presidential, and military portraits. He also designed the Buffalo Nickel and the United States Victory Medal, and was the recipient of the gold medal for sculpture from the National Institute and American Academy of Arts and Letters. Fraser married his former student, artist Laura Gardin, and they lived and worked together in Connecticut with their two cocker spaniels, “Victory” and “Commando.”