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 Ernest Alfred (Ernst Alfred Schmidt) Yerbysmith  (1876 - 1952)



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Lived/Active: New York/California / Germany      Known for: sculpture

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Saxony, Germany on March 7, 1876.  Yerbysmith (né Ernst Alfred Schmidt) immigrated to the U.S. in 1886.  After a brief time as a busboy in the hotels of NYC, he rode the rails to San Francisco.  There he shipped out as a cabin boy on a four-masted schooner bound for the Orient.  He later worked on a cattle ranch before joining the U.S. Cavalry to fight in the Spanish-American War.  Following his discharge, he struck it rich in the gold mines of the Klondike, but returned to San Francisco and lost it all in high living at the Palace Hotel and the nearby casinos of the Barbary Coast.  He was living there at the time of the earthquake in 1906.  About this time he opted to become a sculptor and studied locally.  His first artistic job was work on the PPIE of 1915.  He then moved to Hollywood where he constructed sets for MGM and Republic Studios.  (The balcony from which Norma Shearer played Juliet was of his design as was Notre Dame Cathredral in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame.")  He also created many portrait busts of the movie stars in marble and bronze.  In the late 1930s he moved to Laguna Beach where he established Yerbysmith Ceramics at 990 Hillcrest.  He was active there until his death on June 11, 1952.  Yerbysmith is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park under a marble statue of his own design.  Member:  Laguna Beach AA.  In:  LA Times Bldg lobby (bust of Harrison G. Otis).
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Interview with artist or his/her family; NY Times & LA Times, 6-12-1952 (obits).
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

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