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 Cyrus Edwin Dallin  (1861 - 1944)

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Lived/Active: Massachusetts/Utah / France      Known for: Native American figure sculpture, portrait busts, statues

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Ad Code: 2
Cyrus Edwin Dallin
from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A sculptor of Indian figures and portraits, Cyrus Dallin created work that showed Indians as having noble bearing, simplicity, dignity, and elaborate costumes.  This was a departure from earlier depictions of them "as a pitiful but appealing remnant of a once-proud and noble race." (Baigell 85)  He was a careful student of anatomy, costume, and psysiognomay, and his highly realistic figures made them seem natural, interesting and worth knowing as human beings.

One of his major pieces is the statue of Paul Revere at Boston's Old North Church, for which he won an equestrian art contest.  Another famous work is Appeal to the Great Spirit, at the Boston Museum of the Fine Arts.  Other important works are in Chicago, Signal of Peace in Lincoln Park; Medicine Man in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, and Massasoit at Plymouth, Massachusetts to commemorate the peace of 1621 between the Indians and the Pilgrims.

Dallin was born in a log cabin in Springville, Utah, the son of Mormon pioneers, and he grew up near Paiute and Ute Indians, exposure which set the course of his career.  As a youngster, he modeled wolves, antelope, buffalo, and other wild animals of his surroundings.  In 1879, he was sponsored by Utah patrons supportive of his genius and headed for Boston to study with Truman Bartlett.  On the way, he met Crow Indians that he later used as subjects.  He also studied in Paris in 1880 at the Academie Julian and was further inspired to depict western subjects when he saw Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in Paris.  He sculpted Signal of Peace, the figure of an Indian, which won honorable mention as his entry in the Paris Salon.  Much encouraged by this success, he did a series of sculptures on related subjects.  In Paris, he also completed a statue of Lafayette.

Dallin taught at Drexel Institute in Philadelphia and the Massachusetts State Normal Art School in Boston.

Sources include:
Sarah Boehme, author of Whitney Gallery of Western Art and curator of Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming
Mathew Baigell, Dictionary of American Art
Donald Martin Reynolds, Masters of American Sculpture

Biography from Thomas Nygard Gallery:


Private Collection, New York.
By descent in the family to the present owner.

Cyrus Dallin was born in Springville, Utah in 1861 the son of a covered wagon pioneer. The tribe of friendly Ute Indians that came each Spring and Fall to trade with the newly founded town of Springville was incentive to the young man to dedicate himself to Native American subjects. He befriended the Indian boys and grew to admire them and have a tremendous respect for their culture. By 1884 he was sent in Boston to study sculpture with Truman Howe Bartlett. His studies there, and at the Julien Academy in Paris further inspired him to execute his compositions relating the predicament of the American Indian. He was one of the first sculptors to recognize the plight of the American Indian and to devote his life and art to making dramatic and heroic monuments which proclaimed the Indian point of view.

He was very successful in his early years with a series known as the Indian cycle. This series was intended to show the cycle of the American Indian's relation with the white man. It included his popular subjects, The Signal of Peace, The Medicine Man, The Protest and The Appeal to the Great Spirit. For Dallin it provided a means to utilize the preliminary studies that he made from visiting Buffalo Bill's camp at Neuilly, France while he was studying in Paris in1888. However, it also made a statement for the artist that commanded the attention of a broad collectorship as well. His creations were later commissioned in heroic size for institutions or the towns of Salt Lake City, Boston, Washington DC, Plymouth, Massachusetts, Kansas City, Philadelphia and others.

Throughout his life he was an eloquent defender of the American Indian. His intimate knowledge of them gave his work an authenticity and a reality heretofore unknown. His personal involvement with their cause gave his statures a dramatic impact which has retained its strength through the years. The simplicity of his sculptural style with its emphasis on the essentials rather than the decorative gives Dallin's statures a special appeal to the aesthetic taste of the modern world.

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Cyrus Dallin is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915

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