Laura Gardin Fraser (Laura Fraser)

Laura Gardin Fraser

American Sculptor. Born Laura Gardin on September 14, 1889, in Chicago, daugther of John Emil and Alice Tilton Gardin. As a young girl, Laura was given her first horse and developed her lifelong love of animals, which often became her subjects. She had an aptitude in modeling figures and working in clay, a talent she developed under the guidance of her mother, who herself was a talented painter and musician. After completing High School, Laura studied at Columbia University briefly, then enrolled for work at the Art Students’ League. It was during her time at the League that she studied under, and eventually married on Thanksgiving Day, 1913, sculptor James Earle Fraser. The following year they bought a colonial home in Westport, Connecticut, where they would build their studio. Recognized principally for her medallic contributions, her work includes: The Charles A. Lindberg Congressional Medal, the official United States George Washington Bicentennial Medal, and the Benjamin Franklin 250th Birthday Congressional Medal. United States coin designs include the 1921 Alabama Centennial Commemorative Half Dollar, the 1922 Ulysses S. Grant Centennial Half Dollar and gold One Dollar,1925 Fort Vancouver Centennial Half Dollar, and the first two coins for the Republic of the Philippines, the 1947 General Douglas MacArthur One Peso and Fifty Centavos. In addition, she collabrated with her husband, James Earle Fraser (best known by numismatists as the designer of the Buffalo Five Cent coin) in the creation of the Oregon Trail Memorial Half Dollar (struck from 1929-1939). In addition, the United States Mint used Fraser’s second place design (to John Flanagan’s 1932 design) for a 1999 commemorative Five Dollar gold coin memorializing George Washington on the Bicentennial of his death. Other significant medallic work includes the Admiral Richard E. Byrd Medal and Hubbard Medal, both for the National Geographic Society; Massachusetts Tercentenary Medal; the United States Military Academy Sesquicentennial Medal; the Sylvanus Thayer Medal for the United States Military Academy; the American Bar Association Medal; the Smithsonian Institute’s National Academy of Sciences Medal; the S.F.B. Morse American Geographic Society Medal; the Wolcott Medal for the Smithsonian Institute; the Medal of Honor of the National Sculpture Society; and the American Numismatic Society Medal. She also won outstanding commissions to do heroic-sized sculpture. Including a double equestrian statue of Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson in Baltimore. Other notable works include the Flying Pegasus sculptured in white granite with a floating figure for Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina. Other works include: the “Wrestlers,” cut in stone; two reclining elk in front of the Elks National Memorial in Chicago; a life-size equestrian protrait of Fair-Play, sire of Man-of-War, in Lexington, Kentucky, and sculptural panels depicting the history of the United States at the West Point Military Academy, and another four ten-foot panels for the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge in Washington DC. She also did a number of small sculptures of animals for the National Polo Association and mascots for both military academies – the Navy’s Goat and the Army’s Mule. Her death occurred in Norwalk, Connecticut on August 13, 1966. Laura and James never had any children, and she was survived by her two sisters, Eva and Leila. (bio by: Steven Bieda)  Family links:  Spouse:  James Earle Fraser (1876 – 1953)

Born

  • September, 14, 1889
  • USA

Died

  • August, 08, 1966
  • USA

Cemetery

  • Willowbrook Cemetery
  • Connecticut
  • USA

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