Bryant Baker

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Bryant Baker
Born Percy Bryant Baker
(1881-07-08)July 8, 1881
London, England, U.K.
Died March 29, 1970(1970-03-29) (aged 88)
New York, New York, U.S.
Nationality British American
Education City and Guild Technical Institute
Royal Academy of Arts
Known for Sculpture
Notable work Pioneer Woman; L'Apres-Midi d'un Faune; George Washington, Mason

Percy Bryant Baker (July 8, 1881 – March 29, 1970) better known as Bryant Baker, was a British-born American sculptor. He sculpted a number of busts of famous Americans (including five presidents). In 1910, Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom commissioned him to create a bust of King Edward VII.

Life and career[edit]

Baker was born on July 8, 1881, in London, United Kingdom, to John Baker, a sculptor.[1] His father and his sculptor grandfather both worked on wood and stone carvings at Westminster Abbey.[2] His brother was Robert P. Baker, also a sculptor of note.[3] He became an apprentice sculptor under his father, and carved Gothic statues for Beverley Minster and decorative elements for the Victoria and Albert Museum.[1] He studied art and sculpting at the City and Guild Technical Institute and later at the Royal Academy of Arts.[4] He graduated from the latter in 1910.[5]

In 1910, Queen Alexandra commissioned him to sculpt a bust of Edward VII.[6] She was so impressed with his work, that she then commissioned him to design a life-size statue of Edward VII, and later a bust in marble of the nine-year-old Prince Olaf of Norway.[4]

In 1916, Baker emigrated to the United States, where he enlisted in the United States Army. He served during World War I in Army hospitals, crafting artificial limbs and face masks for wounded soldiers.[4] He became a U.S. citizen in 1923.[2]

In 1928, millionaire Oklahoma oilman E. W. Marland sponsored a $100,000 competition to create a statue honoring pioneering women of the American Old West. Baker won the design competition, and in 1930 his 27-foot (8.2 m) high, 12,000 pounds (5,400 kg) statue, Pioneer Woman, was unveiled in Ponca City, Oklahoma. It became his best-known work.[4] In 1957, Baker was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate member, and became a full member in 1959.[citation needed]

Baker never married. In his final years, Baker lived in The Gainsborough high-rise apartment building at 222 West 59th Street in New York City. He died of unspecified causes at St. Barnabas Hospital in The Bronx on March 29, 1970.[4] He was cremated, and his ashes interred at St. Peter's Church in Fordcombe, Kent, England.[7]

Shortly after his death, the contents of his New York studio were purchased and moved to the E. W. Marland Mansion in Ponca City.[citation needed] The mansion is now known as the Ponca City Cultural Center, and Baker's studio and copies of many of his works are on display there.[citation needed]

Baker was a Freemason, and belonged to the Constitutional Lodge No. 294 at Beverley, Yorkshire, England.[5]

Notable works[edit]

William Borah, 1947
in Washington, D.C.

According to the Smithsonian Institution, several copies of Baker's works can be found at the Ponca City Cultural Center in Ponca City, Oklahoma.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Proske 1968, p. 236.
  2. ^ a b Gay & Evert 1983, p. 390.
  3. ^ National Sculpture Society 1929, p. 20.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Bryant Baker, Sculptor, Dies". The New York Times. March 31, 1970. p. A41. 
  5. ^ a b Denslow 1957, p. 47.
  6. ^ Brown 1980, p. 74.
  7. ^ Sworder, John (October 2011). "St Peters Church.". FordcombeVillage.co.uk. Retrieved April 2, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Bust of Sir Winston Churchill Unveiled." The Milwaukee Journal. May 31, 1958.
  9. ^ "Baker, Bryant, 1881-1970, sculptor." Smithsonian Institution Research Information System. Smithsonian American Art Museum. 2011. Accessed 2012-04-01.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Brown, William Adrian (1980). History of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial, 1922-1974: Half Century of Construction. Washington, D.C.: George Washington Masonic National Memorial Association. 
  • Denslow, William R. (1957). 10,000 Famous Freemasons. Trenton, Mo.: Missouri Lodge of Research. 
  • Gay, Vernon; Evert, Marilyn (1983). Discovering Pittsburgh's Sculpture. Pittsburgh, Pa.: University of Pittsburgh Press. ISBN 9780822934677. 
  • National Sculpture Society (1929). Contemporary American Sculpture: The California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Lincoln Park, San Francisco. New York: Press of the Kalkhoff Company. 
  • Proske, Beatrice Gilman (1968). Brookgreen Gardens Sculpture. Murrells Inlet, S.C.: Brookgreen Gardens. 


External links[edit]