Moses Wainer Dykaar was born in Russia and began carving on his own while in seminary, eventually giving up rabbinical training to become an artist. Although he was offered a government subsidy to study art in Paris, he refused, preferring to make his own way. When he came to America at age thirty, his talent at realistic sculpting earned him a number of important commissions to create portraits of historical figures. His sitters included President Calvin Coolidge, secretary of the Smithsonian Charles D. Walcott, Supreme Court justice Wendell Phillips Stafford, Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, and socialist leader Eugene V. Debs. Although he had become a successful and noted American sculptor, Dykaar leapt under a train at age forty-nine, just days after seeking psychological help for a “nervous ailment” that was worsened by financial problems.