Frederick MacMonnies was among the most successful American sculptors of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In 1891, he was awarded the commission to design the monumental central fountain for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The notoriety garnered from this prominent work led to commissions for other major public sculptures, including the Denver Pioneer Monument, his only Western subject.
Begun in 1906 and unveiled in 1911, the monument marks the end of the Smoky Hill Trail, which led gold-seeking pioneers to Colorado in 1859. MacMonnies crowned the fountain with a figure of Christopher Houston “Kit” Carson (1809-1868), the renowned frontiersman, who made his final home in Colorado. This reduced version of the sculpture is one of several cast shortly before MacMonnies’ death.