Laura Gardin Fraser

Laura Gardin Fraser

Laura Gardin Fraser (September 14, 1889 in Chicago, Illinois – August 13, 1966 in Norwalk, Connecticut) was an American sculptor and the wife of sculptor James Earle Fraser.

Laura Gardin studied under Fraser at the Art Students League of New York from 1910 to 1912. Alone or with her husband she designed a number of U.S. coins, notably the 1921 Alabama Centennial half dollar, the 1922 Grant Memorial half dollar, the 1925 Fort Vancouver Centennial half dollar, and the 1926 Oregon Trail Memorial half dollar.

In 1931 she was the winner of the competition to design a new quarter with George Washington on the obverse. Her winning design was ignored by the then-Treasury Secretary, Andrew Mellon, who selected a design by John Flanagan. Fraser's design was coined as a commemorative five-dollar gold piece in 1999. In 1924, she was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate member, and became a full Academician in 1931.

Laura Gardin Fraser is buried next to her husband in Willowbrook Cemetery in Westport, Connecticut.[1]

Personal lifeEdit

Laura Gardin was born on September 14, 1889, daughter of John Emil and Alice Tilton Gardin, her mother was a well known artist herself,[2] in Morton Park, a suburb at the time of Chicago. She received her elementary education in Morton Park schools. Laura attended school in Rye, New York, then Wadleigh and the Horace Mann School in New York City. She graduated from the latter in the class of 1907. At an early age she had shown an aptitude in modeling figures and working in clay, a talent she developed under the guidance of her mother.[3]

After high school, Laura studied at Columbia University briefly, then enrolled for work at the Art Students' League. It was during her years at the League that she met and studied under James Earle Fraser, whom she later married.


Although recognized principally for her medallic contributions,[4] Laura won outstanding commissions for heroic-size sculpture. Of these, the most notable was her winning the competition for a double equestrian statue of Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson in Baltimore. The competition was held in 1936 and six eminent American sculptors, Lee Lawrie, Paul Manship, Edward McCartan, Hans Schuler, Frederick William Sievers and Laura Fraser were invited to submit designs.[5] Fraser was the only woman sculptor invited to enter the competition.[6]

In January 2016 a task force looking into Confederate monuments in Baltimore recommended that the monument to Jackson and Lee, along with a statue of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Roger B. Taney, be removed. The commissioners recommended that the sculpture of Jackson and Lee be offered to the U.S. Park Service for installation in Chancellorsville, Virginia. The two Confederate generals last met in person shortly before the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863.[7] The sculpture was removed in the early hours of August 16, 2017 by the City of Baltimore, in reaction to the unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia a few days prior. The future of this sculpture is in limbo as the city tries to find a new home for it.


  1. ^ "Laura Gardin Fraser". Find A Grave. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
  2. ^ Gilbert, Dorothy B., ‘’Who’s Who in American Art 1962", R.R. Bowker Company, New York, 1962
  3. ^ Rubenstein, Charlotte Streifer, ‘’American Women Artists: from Early Indian Times to the Present", Avon Publishers 1982 p. 191
  4. ^ Proske, Beatrice Gilman, Brookgreen Gardens Sculpture, Brookgreen Gardens, SC, 1943 p. 264
  5. ^ Kelly, Cindy, Outdoor Sculpture in Baltimore: A Historical Guide to Puvlic Art in the Monumental City, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2011 p. 198
  6. ^ Rubenstein, Charlotte Streifer, ‘’American Women Sculptors: A History of Women Working in Three Dimensions", G. K. Hall and Co. Boston, 1990 p. 192
  7. ^ Baltimore City commission recommends removal of two Confederate monuments