AWARDS

  • Académie Julien, Paris, France, Medal and Prize, Dog with Bone, 1894
  • American Academy of Rome, Friend, Prix De Rome, 1926-27
  • Architectural League, New York City, Gold Medal of Honor, Princeton Tiger, 1911
  • Bohemian Club, Trap Shooting Tournament Winner, 1921
  • Camp Fire Club of America, for Eminent Service, 1948
  • Camp Fire Club of America, Man of the Year, 1946
  • Columbian Exposition, Chicago, IL, Designer Medal for special contribution of 37 pieces including:
  • Polar Bear, Moose, Buckaroo and On the War Trail, 1893
  • Louisiana Purchase Exposition, St. Louis, MO, Gold Medal (Louis Jolliet), 1904
  • Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, CA, Gold Medal, 1915
  • Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, NY, Bronze Medal for watercolor, 1901
  • Paris Exposition, Gold Medal for Sculpture Indian Warrior, Quadriga and Puma, American Pavilion, 1900
  • Watercolor Society of New York, Second Place for Painting, 1889

HONORS

  • Judge, Pendleton Roundup, Pendleton, OR, 1916
  • Judge, Seattle Stampede and Frontier Days, Wild West Show in Seattle during Potlatch, 1915
  • Judge, National Academy of Design, Ninetieth Annual Exhibition, Galleries of the American Fine Arts Society, NY, 1915
  • Member, Louisiana Purchase Exposition, Jury of Selection for Sculpture, St. Louis, MO, 1904
  • Member, Pan-American Exposition, Jury of Selection of Awards and Sculpture, 1901
  • Member, Paris Exposition, Jury of Selection of Sculpture, 1900

MEMBERSHIPS

  • Adventurers' Club
  • American Fine Arts Society
  • American Society of Animal Painters and Sculptors
  • American Society for the Promotion of Art and American Artists
  • American Watercolor Society
  • Architectural League
  • Art Commission New York
  • Bohemian Club
  • Boone and Crockett Club
  • Camp Fire Club of America
  • Canadian Art Club
  • Century Club of New York, 1901-1950, 1975
  • Committee, Promotion of Roosevelt Ideals of Roosevelt Memorial Association
  • National Academy of Design
  • National Art Club of New York
  • National Council, Boy Scouts of America
  • National Institute of Arts and Letters
  • National Sculpture Society
  • New York Art Commission
  • New York Zoological Society
  • Roosevelt Pilgrimage
  • Smithsonian Robson Expedition, 1911
  • Society of American Artists
  • Sons of Colonial Wars
  • Sons of the Revolution
  • St. Francis Andrews Society

Alexander Phimister Proctor

A Timeline of Alexander Phimister Proctor's Life

  • watercolor
    September 27, 1860

    Born in Bosanquet, a township in Ontario, Canada, to Alexander Proctor and Tirzah Smith-Proctor. The fourth child of 11, and the last to be born in Canada.

  • 1864-1870

    Family moves to Clinton, Michigan by covered wagon, and in the following eight years lives in Newton and Des Moines, Iowa.

  • 1871

    Family crosses the prairie to live in Denver. Proctor is baptized and pledges never to drink alcohol or smoke tobacco (a pledge he kept his entire life)

  • 1876
    1876

    At age 16, Proctor kills an elk and a bear in the same day. Dissects, studies and sketches each animal.

  • 1879

    Receives commission for 20 illustrations for the book Hands Up, written by Sheriff Dave Cook, the most noted peace officer in Colorado at the time.

  • 1884

    Hunts and sketches in Yosemite for six months with friend Alden Sampson. While there, Proctor and Sampson climb and reinstall cable hand-holds on top fifteen hundred feet of Half Dome. After completing this difficult challenge, Proctor is determined to become a successful sculptor.

  • 1884-1885

    Tries mining to strike it rich and pay for art training in New York City. The plan does not live up to expectations, so Proctor sells his Colorado homestead to fund education.

  • NOVEMBER 1885-1887

    Studies at National Academy of Design and the Art Students’ League.

  • FALL 1887

    Meets fellow sculptor John Rogers, who encourages Proctor to start on the model of Fawn in wax. Photograph of Fawn model appears in Harper’s Weekly, and the plaster is shown at the annual Century Club exhibit. While sketching at the menagerie in New York, Proctor develops the ability to retain an action picture in his mind by closing his eyes, opening them for a split second, and shutting them again.

  • WINTER 1888-1889

    Opens first studio, with W.W. Deming, in New York. Learns that the Greeks and Egyptians fashioned their own tools, and decides to make his own tools to increase his modeling control. Noted New York art dealer N.E. Montross handles some of Proctor’s paintings.

  • SPRING 1890

    Visits family in Snohomish, Washington; hunts and sketches bear and elk in Alberta, Canada.

  • SUMMER 1891

    Hunts and sketches in the Cascade Mountains. Receives telegram inviting him to participate in the Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

  • 1891
    SEPTEMBER 1891

    Arrives in Chicago to begin his first big commission: 37 models for the Columbian Exposition. While there, he meets renowned sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Margaret (Mody) Daisy Gerow, a painter and sculptor working for Lorado Taft.

  • 1893
    SEPTEMBER 27, 1893

    Marries Margaret “Mody” Gerow.

  • 1893
    OCTOBER 1893

    Sails for Paris to study French methods of sculpture at the Académie Julien. Also studies under Denys Pierre Puech and Jean Antoine Injalbert at Académie Colarossi. Wins first prize at annual competition in Paris for The Boxer-Pug. Prize is a 100 golden franc piece.

  • SPRING 1894

    Receives telegram from Saint-Gaudens asking him to model the horse for a statue of General Logan to be placed in Chicago.

  • AUTUMN 1894

    Accepts commission; returns to New York City to work with Saint-Gaudens.

  • AUGUST 1895

    Creates another horse for Saint-Gaudens; this time he sculpts General Sherman’s horse, which now resides in Central Park, New York City.

  • AUGUST-SEPTEMBER 1895

    Trip to Montana with Henry Stimson (later to become U.S. Secretary of State) to sketch, hunt and review area for a national park.

  • 1896
    1896

    Begins work on Standing Pumas for Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York. Visits Blackfoot Indian reservation in Montana to sketch and model Indians and animals.

  • 1896_2
    FALL 1896

    Receives the Rinehart Scholarship, which funds three years of study in Paris. While in France, he meets many French sculptors, works on puma sketches and models the Indian Warrior for the Rinehart Committee.

  • 1898

    Receives commission to do the Quadriga for the American Pavilion at the International Exposition of 1900 in Paris, France. Returns to Paris.

  • AUTUMN 1898

    Returns to New York. Awarded the Prix de Rome, which he turns down because it would mean doing classical statues.

  • FALL 1900

    Returns to New York. Receives commission for sculptures to be exhibited at the Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, New York.

  • 1901-1902

    Exhibits nine small bronzes, mostly animals, at the Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, New York.

  • 1902
    1902

    Completes Sentinal Lions for the Frick Building, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

  • 1903
    1903

    Receives commission for a copper griffin for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904, St. Louis, Missouri. Also creates a sculpture of Louis Jolliet for the Exposition. Makes a number of models for the House of Primates at the Zoological Park, New York City.

  • 1906
    1906

    Completes Lions for McKinley Monument and completes the decorations for the elephant house at the Bronx Zoo. Receives commission for two tigers for the entrance to Nassau Hall, Princeton University.

  • 1907
    1907

    Receives commission to do four tigers for the 16th Street Bridge in Washington, D.C. Works on Buffalo Heads for State Dining Room in the White House.

  • 1908

    Receives commission for bronze Bison Keystones for the Arlington Cemetery Bridge, Washington, D.C.

  • SPRING 1909

    Hunts and sketches in Canada’s Banff and Waterton Lakes areas. Meets George Pratt and his brother Herbert Pratt. Herbert commissions two Tigers and one four-foot Buffalo for his estate at Glen Cove, Long Island, New York.

  • FALL 1910

    Antelope hunting trip to Edmonton with Alden Sampson.

  • 1911
    1911

    One-man show at the Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon. Receives commission for four, large bronze Buffalo for the Q Street Bridge, Washington, D.C. Visits 200,000-acre Wainwright game preserve to study and sketch buffalo.

  • SUMMER 1912

    Hunting trip with George Pratt to Alberta.

  • SUMMER 1913

    Big game hunting trip to Fort Steele, British Columbia, with George Pratt to gather specimens for the Smithsonian.

  • SPRING 1914

    Works on Indian Pursued. Chief Little Wolf, a Cheyenne Indian, poses for the sculpture. Proctor performs secret ceremony to become a blood brother to Chief Little Wolf.

  • 1915
    1915

    Travels to Portland, Oregon to work on several bas-reliefs. Attends a round-up in Pendleton, Oregon. Starts The Buckaroo. Completes work on small bronze Indian head called Jackson Sundown. Homesteads 120 acres near William Hanley’s ranch. Hanley is cattle king of Eastern Oregon, and later U.S. senator.

  • SPRING 1916

    Completes the buffalo portion of the Buffalo Hunt and then selects Jackson Sundown, nephew of Chief Joseph, as the model for the statue’s horse rider.

  • 1916
    SUMMER 1916

    Moves to Lapwai, Nez Perce reservation with Mody and their seven children to model Jackson Sundown. Camps with the Indians in a tepee.

  • 1917
    1917

    Receives commissions for Bronco Buster, On the War Trail, Pioneer and Mohawk Indian.

  • SUMMER 1918

    Moves to Palo Alto, California. Needs a larger studio, so Stanford University leases Proctor a room in the engineering building.

  • 1919
    1919

    Drives 1500 miles to Browning, Montana, in search of a new model for On the War Trail and Mohawk Indian. Spends the summer at Many Glacier modeling Blackfoot Indians. Returns to California in late fall with Big Beaver, his model, to complete On the War Trail.

  • 1920
    1920

    Receives commissions for The Rough Rider and Circuit Rider.

  • 1923

    Sells Palo Alto home and moves to Hollywood, California. He knows he can find models from movie sets for the recent commission for the Pioneer Mother group.

  • 1925

    William Mitchell Kendall, chairman of the American Academy in Rome, offers Proctor a studio at the Academy. Proctor accepts and becomes their Resident Sculptor.

  • OCTOBER 1925

    Arrives in Rome.

  • 1927
    1927

    The Pioneer Mother project is cast in bronze in Rome and transported to Kansas City, Missouri.

  • 1927-1928

    Travels to Brussels, Belgium.

  • SUMMER 1928

    Returns to U.S. and settles in Wilton, Connecticut.

  • 1929

    Receives commission for General Robert E. Lee and Young Soldier.

  • 1936
    JUNE 12, 1936

    General Robert E. Lee and Young Soldier dedicated in Dallas, Texas with President Franklin D. Roosevelt unveiling the statue.

  • 1936

    Sells Wilton, Connecticut home and moves to New York City.

  • 1936-1938

    Works on drypoint etchings of wild animals. Mody has heart problems.

  • SEPTEMBER 1936

    Bear hunting trip to Southeastern Alaska. Shoots his limit of four bears.

  • 1937

    Proctors move to Seattle, Washington. Receives commission for Mustangs for the University of Texas, Austin.

  • 1939

    Lives for a year at Rancho Los Palos, Texas, while modeling a stallion, five mares and a colt for Mustangs.

  • 1940

    Moves to North Bend, Washington.

  • 1941

    Begins serious work on autobiography, Sculptor in Buckskin, and continues to sketch and paint.

  • 1942

    Mody Proctor dies.

  • 1943

    Proctor moves back to Palo Alto, California.

  • 1946
    SEPTEMBER 1946

    Hunts in Alaska. Kills a bear 69 years after killing his first bear at age 16-two days before his 85th birthday.

  • 1948
    1948

    The Mustangs completed in 1939 are finally cast, following the World War II bronze shortage.

  • 1950
    SEPTEMBER 1950

    Dies in Palo Alto at the age of 89.

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Self-proclaimed “Sculptor in Buckskin” Alexander Phimister Proctor, ca. 1880

Self-proclaimed “Sculptor in Buckskin” Alexander Phimister Proctor, ca. 1880

In 1891, the great Polish pianist Ignace Jan Paderewski paid a visit to Alexander Phimister Proctor’s studio on the site of the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where Proctor was working on life-sized wild animal sculptures. The pianist admired Proctor’s Stalking Panther and Fawn bronzes and commented that he couldn’t understand how the same man could model so fierce a beast as a panther and such a delicate, timid fawn.

Always the charmer, Proctor countered by wondering how Paderewski could play a crashing thunderstorm and then a dainty sonata to a water lily. Paderewski replied, “I interpret; you create.”

Proctor felt Paderewski’s praise was “far too generous.” His own, albeit self-effacing, modus operandi is summed up best at the end of his autobiography, Sculptor in Buckskin: “I am eternally obsessed with two deep desires-one, to spend as much time as possible in the wilderness, and the other, to accomplish something worthwhile in art.”

He did both to an enviable extent. Proctor was a rare individual who viewed life as work and work as play. To him hunting and sculpting were indelibly intertwined. Hunting was his breath of life and the inspiration and education for the sketches and models that would become revered sculptures that now stand in parks, museums and monuments from coast to coast.

Startled, circa 1885, by Proctor – Oil on Academy Board

Born in Canada and raised in Colorado, Proctor was a genuine Westerner whose love of the American wilderness-its social and natural history-never left him. Although he dubbed himself the “sculptor in buckskin,” Proctor’s academic training made him as comfortable in international artistic circles as he was hunting grizzlies in the Rocky Mountains. He studied at the Art Students’ League and the National Academy of Design in New York City, and later at the Académies Julien and Colarossi in Paris, where he learned to translate his keen observations into works of art that memorialized the West without sentimentality.

Proctor was born on September 27, 1860, in Bosanquet, Ontario, to Alexander and Tirzah (Smith) Proctor, the fourth in a family of eleven children. The family moved to Michigan in 1863, Iowa in 1864 or 1865, and six years later to Denver, Colorado. There Proctor developed a love for hunting and sketching wild animals. He took his first art lessons in Denver, and his first employment in art was with a wood-engraving firm, for which he made twenty wood engravings for a book entitled Hands Up (1880). In 1885 he sold a gold claim and with the proceeds went to New York to study at the National Academy of Design. Later he took drawing and anatomy classes at the Art Students League. Whenever finances permitted, Proctor visited his friends in the West and his family, who had moved by 1890 to the Pacific Northwest.

Unlike his contemporaries-Frederic Remington, Charles Russell and James Earle Fraser-Proctor dedicated his life to creating monumental statues throughout the United States and gave much effort to making available his smaller bronzes to the general public. His works of art celebrate both famous heroes and anonymous, iconic figures. General William T. Sherman rides a Proctor horse in Central Park and General Robert E. Lee and Young Soldier travel stoically through time against the Dallas skyline. The Pioneer Mother on the campus of the University of Oregon, and equestrian group of the same name in Kansas City, honor the dauntless character of the West’s early pioneers. In Denver, the Bronco Buster and On the War Trail embody untamed frontier spirit. And Proctor’s tribute to Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Rider, was the subject of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s first educational film on the work of a sculptor.

Proctor’s genius in depicting animals can be seen in the Tigers in front of Princeton University’s Nassau Hall. The Animal House in New York’s Zoological Gardens carries his monkeys, elephants, rhinoceros and frogs on its frieze. Lions flank Pittsburgh’s Frick Building, and four Buffalo guard the Q Street Bridge in Washington, D.C. His last monumental commission, Mustangs, which resides on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin, is a sublime symbol of freedom and self-reliance-a fitting finale to a spectacular career.

Proctor died in 1950, just short of his 90th birthday, in Palo Alto, California. He was active in his studio up until two weeks before his death, and living up to his adventurous reputation, was shooting bears in Alaska at 84-years of age. He is buried next to his wife, Margaret “Mody” Gerow Proctor, in a family plot at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Seattle, Washington.