Bryant Baker studied in London at the City and Guild Technical Institute and the Royal Academy of Arts. His decorative carvings and sculpture were installed at Westminster Abbey and other cathedrals. In 1916 he moved to the United States and served in the army, working to rehabilitate American veterans from World War I by modeling artificial limbs. Baker won commissions for busts of five presidents, including John F. Kennedy. He also made bronze and marble statues of other political figures such as Abraham Lincoln and Henry Cabot Lodge. He was a Fellow of the National Sculpture Society, the Royal Society of British Sculptors, and a life member of St. George’s Society.
Bryant Baker was born in London into a family of sculptors and craftsmen. He studied at the Royal Academy of Arts and created decorative carvings for Westminster Abbey and the Victoria and Albert Museum. While at the academy, he was chosen by King George V and Queen Alexandra to model a statue and bust of King Edward VII. The royal family were so pleased with his work that they requested fourteen replicas of the bust in marble. In 1916 he came to the United States and volunteered in the Medical Corps, making artificial limbs and face masks for injured soldiers. He created sculptures of many presidents, including a seventeen-foot statue of George Washington and busts of William H. Taft, John F. Kennedy, and Calvin Coolidge.
Baker was born on July 8, 1881, in London, United Kingdom, to John Baker, a sculptor. His father and his grandfather were both sculptorss and worked on wood and stone carvings at Westminster Abbey. His brother was Robert P. Baker, also a sculptor of note. He became an apprentice sculptor under his father, and carved Gothic statues for Beverley Minster and decorative elements for the Victoria and Albert Museum. He studied art and sculpting at the City and Guild Technical Institute and later at the Royal Academy of Arts. He graduated from the latter in 1910.
In 1910, Queen Alexandra commissioned him to sculpt a bust of Edward VII. She was so impressed with his work, that she then commissioned him to design a life-size statue of Edward VII, and later a bust in marble of the nine-year-old Prince Olaf of Norway.
In 1916, Baker emigrated to the United States, where he enlisted in the United States Army. He served during World War I in Army hospitals, crafting artificial limbs and face masks for wounded soldiers. He became a U.S. citizen in 1923.
In 1928, millionaire Oklahoma oilman E. W. Marland sponsored a $100,000 competition to create a statue honoring pioneering women of the American Old West. Baker won the design competition, and in 1930 his 27-foot (8.2 m) high, 12,000 pounds (5,400 kg) statue, Pioneer Woman, was unveiled in Ponca City, Oklahoma. It became his best-known work. In 1957, Baker was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate member, and became a full member in 1959.
Baker never married. In his final years, Baker lived in The Gainsborough high-rise apartment building at 222 West 59th Street in New York City. He died of unspecified causes at St. Barnabas Hospital in The Bronx on March 29, 1970. He was cremated, and his ashes interred at St. Peter's Church in Fordcombe, Kent, England.
Shortly after his death, the contents of his New York studio were purchased and moved to the E. W. Marland Mansion in Ponca City. The mansion is now known as the Ponca City Cultural Center, and Baker's studio and copies of many of his works are on display there.
Baker was a Freemason, and belonged to the Constitutional Lodge No. 294 at Beverley, Yorkshire, England.
- Pioneer Woman, 1930, Ponca City, Oklahoma, 27 feet (8.2 m) tall
- Portrait plaque of Stephen Tyng Mather, 1930, with castings in dozens of U.S. National Park Service areas
- Grover Cleveland, 1932, Buffalo, New York, monumental sized
- Millard Fillmore, 1932, Buffalo, New York, monumental sized
- L'Apres-Midi d'un Faune, 1934, Brookgreen Gardens, Murrells Inlet, South Carolina
- John M. Clayton, 1934, National Statuary Hall Collection, Washington D.C. (for Delaware)
- Caesar Rodney, 1934, National Statuary Hall Collection, Washington D.C. (for Delaware)
- Abraham Lincoln Statue, 1935, Delaware Park, Buffalo, New York
- Bust of Cordell Hull, 1943, OAS Aztec Garden, Washington, D.C. (see also: List of public art in Ward 2)
- William Borah, 1947, National Statuary Hall Collection, Washington D.C. (for Idaho)
- George Washington, 1950, George Washington Masonic National Memorial, Alexandria, Virginia
- William C. Gorgas, 1954, Mobile County Health Department, Mobile, AL
- Charles Penrose, 1956, formerly in the Newcomen Society of the United States
- Bust of Sir Winston Churchill, 1958, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
- According to the Smithsonian Institution, several copies of Baker's works can be found at the Ponca City Cultural Center in Ponca City, Oklahoma.
Bryant Baker's lost Masterpiece
In 1923, Baker received a haunting request from the Wood family to create a bronze of William Madison Wood Jr who had died months before in a tragic accident in the hopes that the sculpture could help assuage the pain of hisgrief-stricken father. The result of the urgent commission was a one-of-a-kind bronze bust of the dead son that shows the young man in all his vitality.
"The bronze of William Madison Wood Jr. is so lifelike that the young man appears to be standing before you," says Hugh Pickens. "This life-size bronze bust, signed by Baker on the reverse side, has never been exhibited in public and has been missing since its creation in 1923. Unknown until 2015, the piece is not even included in the Smithsonian's inventory of Baker's life work."
"Baker's bronze of William Madison Wood is artistically the equal of any bronze that Baker created in his lifetime and surpasses them all in its emotional impact. The condition of the bronze and the workmanship that went into it is superb," says Joseph Gierek, owner of Gierek Gallery. "Discovered after more than ninety years, this piece is truly Bryant Baker's Lost Masterpiece which has now seen the light of day."
About Pickens Museum
Location and Hours of Operation
Artists at Pickens Museum
- J. Chester Armstrong
- Bryant Baker
- Jolene Bird
- Robin Bray
- Barbara Chase Riboud
- Sergey Chernomorets
- Charles Cordier
- Jo Davidson
- Andrew Scott DeJesse
- Donald De Lue
- Roger Disney
- Yatika Starr Fields
- Espi Frazier
- John Dale Free
- John Free, Jr.
- Paul Gauguin
- Mitch Gyson
- Jeff Ham
- Robert Hardee
- Hugh Harrell Jr.
- K. Henderson
- Bri Hermanson
- Skip Hill
- Malvina Hoffman
- Allan Houser
- Patrick Dean Hubbell
- Oreland Joe
- Malvin Gray Johnson
- William Kilpatrick
- Tom Lea
- Becky Mannschreck
- Paul Manship
- Raoul Middleman
- Woodrow Nash
- Ed Natiya
- Clyde Otipoby
- Gene Pearson
- Pablo Picasso
- Daniel Pickens
- Erika Pochybova
- Charles Pratt
- Bill Rabbit
- Traci Rabbit
- Tanya Rafael
- Richard Recchia
- Faith Ringgold
- Josué Sánchez
- Fritz Scholder
- Stephen Schwark
- Isaac Shari
- Ralph Steadman
- Scott Storm
- Albert Wein
- C J Wells
Articles about Pickens Museum
- Pickens Museum Acquires "War Club" by Yatika Starr Fields January 20, 2022
- Pickens Museum/NOC Mural Dedication Set for June 16th
- Yatika Starr Fields Completes Mural for Pickens Museum May 12, 2021
- Pickens Museum and NOC Announce Mural by Osage Artist Yatika Starr Fields May 5, 2021
- Osage Warrior in the Enemy Camp (Counting Coup) by John Free March 29, 2021
- Pickens Museum Displays Route 66 Murals by Robert Hardee March 29, 2021
- Pickens Museum Opens Exhibit of Sculpture by Donald De Lue at NOC March 24, 2021
- Pickens Museum partners with NOC February 23, 2021
- Three Faces of the Pioneer Woman February 21, 2020
- Letter from a Birmingham Jail by Faith Ringgold February 21, 2020
- Exhibition: "Winter in New York" January 22, 2020
- The Turquoise Guitar by Jolene Bird November 26, 2018
- World's Largest Naja August 29, 2018
- A 1949 Hudson Limousine August 29, 2018
- Meet the Museum Design Team May 21, 2018
- A Ponca City Mystery April 5, 2018
- Tonya Rafael Visits Ponca City February 2018
2015 and before
- Sculptor Bryant Baker's Lost Masterpiece November 3, 2015
- Pioneer Woman Models Come Home February 26, 2010
- Pioneer Woman Models Should Return to Ponca City July 13, 2007
About Pickens Museum