Gutzon Borglum, the son of Mormon pioneers, trained in Paris at the Academie Julian and the Ecole des Beaux-Artes. By the age of 30 he was gaining fame for both his paintings and sculptures across Europe.
In the early 1900s, Borglum established a studio in New York City where his bronzes were added to the collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He began accepting commissions for bronze busts and statuary for churches, government agencies, and corporations.
Most notable was Borglum's large marble bust of President Abraham Lincoln for the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C.
The sculptor also received accolades for his large-scale sculptures of Confederate leaders carved into the side of Stone Mountain, Georgia, which was completed in 1924.
Borglum later was commissioned to immortalize four American Presidents (Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt) on Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.
These icons of American presidential history are 60 ft. high and draw more than two million visitors each year. Borglum envisioned Mt. Rushmore as a celebration of the quartet of famous presidents but also as a symbol of America’s greatness as our nation moved from the 13 original colonies westward following the Louisiana Purchase.
Certainly, the scope of the completed sculpture on Mount Rushmore could not have been achieved without Borglum’s vision and immense talent. However, the tireless efforts of hundreds of stonecutters and tradesmen who assisted in carving out the likenesses of four of America’s most accomplished leaders contributed to the successful transformation of rock into art.
Borglum wrote of his artwork on the face of Mount Rushmore, “This colossus is our mark.”