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The Paradoxical Persistence of James Earle Fraser's End of the Trail: Nostalgia, Souvenirs, and the Politics of Pictorial Representation

  • Author(s): Borrman, Kristina
  • Advisor(s): Lovell, Margaretta
  • et al.
Abstract

Borrman’s Honors Thesis in History of Art examines the history of a famous sculpture, James Earle Fraser’s the End of the Trail, a portrait of a tired, hunched over Native American warrior on horseback. The small bronze quickly attracted great acclaim and has been reproduced an untold number of times as bronzes, bookends, posters and even bookmarks. This paper leverages close readings of numerous archival documents from The Bancroft Library, including original contracts with artists and advertisements and ephemera related to the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exhibition in San Francisco. The San Francisco Chronicle electronic database served as a source for understanding the reception of the sculpture, while resources at numerous other campus libraries helped her trace the many ways the image has been used in visual culture and how interpretations of the image have evolved. According to her professor, “Borrman’s biography of this singular object, following its permutations in and out of art contexts for over a century, is an important achievement.”

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