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Solon Hannibal Borglum

 (1868 - 1922)
Solon Hannibal Borglum was active/lived in Connecticut, New York.  Solon Borglum is known for western sculpture, animal sketches.

Solon Hannibal Borglum

    BORE-glum  speaker-click to hear pronunciation  click to hear

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Solon Hannibal Borglum
The Town of Prescott Valley and Prescott Area Art Trust proudly present the art of Solon H. Borglum.

Solon Hannibal Borglum was born December 22, 1868, in Ogden, Utah.  His parents were Danish immigrants who settled in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1869.  Solon grew up on a farm with a great love for horses and outdoor life, as depicted in his later art. As a young adult, Solon managed his father's 6,000 acre-ranch in Nebraska, but eventually followed his dreams and attended the Cincinnati Art Academy.  He sold enough sculptures during this time to finance further study in Paris. While in France, he gained recognition as "le Sculpteur de la Prairie" (the sculptor of the prairie) by realistically portraying horses, cowboys, and Native Americans, subjects he had known first-hand while living in the Great Plains of America.  In December 1898, Solon married Emma Vignal, and the following summer the couple traveled to the Crow Creek Sioux Reservation in South Dakota for their honeymoon.

Solon displayed several of his works at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, more informally known as the St. Louis World's Fair of 1904. The most elaborate of its kind, the fair featured more than 1,200 sculptures by many American artists. The theme assigned to Solon was the westward advance of civilization, and his monumental sculptures were Indian Buffalo Dance, The Pioneer in a Storm, The Cowboy at Rest, and Steps Toward Civilization.

In 1906, Solon moved his family to Rocky Ranch at Silvermine, Connecticut.  A nearby barn became his studio, and soon other artists settled in the area and created a colony called the Silvermine Group of Artists, with Solon as its acknowledged founder and leader.

In 1907, Solon was hired to create a monumental sculpture of Captain William Owen "Buckey" O'Neill, officially known as the Captain William Owen O'Neill Memorial and unofficially called "The Rough Rider Monument."  O'Neill was a popular former mayor of Prescott and sheriff of Yavapai County, who was killed in 1898 as captain of Troop A, First United States Volunteer Cavalry-Roosevelt's famed "Rough Riders." On July 3, 1907, the ninth anniversary of the charge up San Juan Hill by the Rough Riders, Solon attended the unveiling of the sculpture in Prescott. Parades, poetic recitations, introduction of the sculptor, and speeches were followed by fireworks and a concert by the Fifth United States Cavalry Band. The monumental bronze was hailed as the finest equestrian statue in the United States

In 1913, Solon was selected as one of four artists for the Archer Huntington Project, a plan to design sculptures for the entry plaza of the American Geographic Society in New York City.  Models were planned of The Heavens, The Earth, The Waters, and Man.  Selected artists were assigned a theme to create in monumental size, and Solon was assigned The Heavens.

For the rest of his life, Solon created sculptures of historical and classical themes, including Benjamin Franklin, Confederate soldiers, and George Washington.  His subjects also included his children, Monica and Paul and the family dog.

When World War I erupted, Solon was nearly 50 years old. He joined the Y.M.C.A. and served with the French Third Army as manager of a Foyer du Soldat (i.e., mobile canteen).  For his work, Solon was awarded the French Croix du Guerre medal. At the war's end, he tried unsuccessfully to interest the government in an art training center for returning veterans. In the end, he established his own School of American Sculpture in New York City.

In January 1922, Solon died of a ruptured appendix at age 53.  Artists and friends thronged to his funeral at Rocky Ranch and to memorial services in New York City and Omaha. In addition to his immediate family, Solon was survived by his older brother Gutzon, also a sculptor, who is known as the artistic force behind the sculptures at Mount Rushmore.

Although his death came at far too young of an age, Solon Borglum's legacy remains with us in the beauty of his art. A biography, Solon H. Borglum: A Man Who Stands Alone, by his son-in-law, Mervyn Davies, is available for loan from the Prescott Valley Public Library.

The Solon H. Borglum fine art exhibit located at the Civic Center in Prescott Valley is a result of a friendship forged in the early 1980s between Jerri Wagner, arts advocate and a former mayor of Prescott, and Monica Borglum Davies, daughter of Solon Borglum.  Ms. Wagner was instrumental in forming the Prescott Area Art Trust, whose original goal was to restore and maintain the Captain William Owen O'Neill Memorial in Prescott.  The Prescott Area Art Trust eventually purchased most of the pieces in the exhibit from the Borglum family, and Harry Wagner and Bob Mason of Prescott picked up and drove the collection from Connecticut to Arizona in a rental truck.  The exhibit was on display at Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott for two years and was in storage for a number of years before being relocated to the Civic Center for the enjoyment and education of the public.

Copyright © 2006, Town of Prescott Valley, AZ
Copyright permission granted 1/29/2007

Biography from the Archives of askART
Biography photo for Solon Hannibal Borglum
A sculptor of western subjects in realist style, Solon Borglum was born in Ogden, Utah, and spent time as a young man ranching in Nebraska where he was raised.  The encouragement of his sculptor brother, Gutzon Borglum, turned him towards art.

With Gutzon, in 1883 and 1884, he traveled to California where Gutzon studied art and he worked as a ranch hand.  He returned to Omaha and became a student of J. Laurie Wallace, noted portrait painter.  In 1893, he returned to California, where he shared a studio with his brother in Sierra Madre.  For two years, he worked as a sidewalk painter in Los Angeles, gave art lessons, and roamed the area for subject matter.

Determined to further his education, he then went to Cincinnati to attend the Art Academy and on to Paris where he spent four years at the Academie Julian, interrupted by a trip to the Crow Reservation in South Dakota where he viewed Indian life.  His work of Indian subjects won prizes at the Paris Salons.

In 1900, he opened a studio in New York City and a few years later moved to Silvermine, Connecticut, where he became the founder of the Silvermine Art Colony, whose members first met in his barn.  He was also the founder of the School of American Sculpture in New York and specialized in both bronze and marble.  One of his bronze sculptures, Cowboy at Rest, is in front of the Yavapai County Courthouse in Prescott, Arizona.

During World War I, he served as YMCA Secretary in France, and was awarded the Croix de Guerre for courage under fire.  He died from war-related injuries.

Whitney Gallery of American Art by Sarah Boehme
Who Was Who in American Art by Peter Hastings Falk
Artists in California Before 1940 by Edan Hughes

Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, I
Biography photo for Solon Hannibal Borglum
Solon Hannibal Borglum
Born: Ogden, Utah 1868
Died: Stamford, Connecticut 1922

Traditional Western sculptor

Solon Borglum was the younger brother of Gutzon Borglum. In Nebraska and in California, Solon was a working cowboy until 1894, riding and roping, learning about horses and Indians. Gutzon took Solon as his pupil based on untutored animal sketches, the brothers living in Sierra Madre and Santa Ana, close to the Indians and outlaws in the Saddleback Mountains in California. When he went to study with Rebisso in the Cincinnati Art School, 1895-97, Solon dissected horses and attended human surgical clinics to learn anatomical details. Then he studied with Fremiet and Puech in Paris, winning Salon awards with Western sculptures: Lassoin Wild Horses, Stampede of Wild Horses, and The Lame Horse.

In 1899, Solon returned briefly to the West, studying the Indians. He opened his studio in New York City in 1900, and in a few years moved to "Rocky Ranch" in Silvermine, Connecticut. He exhibited seven sculptures at the landmark 1913 Armory Show in New York City. In 1918, he became YMCA secretary with the French Army, was cited for bravery and won the Croix de Guerre. He was in charge of the department of sculpture in the AEF education system. After the war, he founded the School of American Sculpture before dying from war disabilities. Solon Borglum was described as "a breezy, whole-souled western American" whose "stampedes and bucking broncos were furious small bronzes."

Resource: SAMUELS' Encyclopedia of ARTISTS of THE AMERICAN WEST,
Peggy and Harold Samuels, 1985, Castle Publishing

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About  Solon Hannibal Borglum

Born:  1868 - Ogden, Utah
Died:   1922 - Stamford, Connecticut
Known for:  western sculpture, animal sketches