Gilbert Paul Riswold (alt. Risvold) was born in 1882 into a family of Norwegian immigrants near Baltic, South Dakota. Although he originally set out to train as a blacksmith, he ended up studying art under Ada Caldwell at South Dakota State University, who convinced him to join the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, then known as the Chicago Art Institute, in 1904. There he studied sculpture under Charles Mulligan, head of Sculpture at the Chicago Art Institute, and later continued his studies at Midway Studios under Lorado Taft, the prominent Chicago–based sculptor who created the Fountain of Time piece in Washington Park and the Shaler Memorial Angel that sits outside Midway Studios.
Riswold spent over twenty years living in Chicago, working both for competition and commission; he designed a war memorial in Oak Park, Illinois, and in Springfield, Illinois created a bronze sculpture of Stephen A. Douglas and a bust of Abraham Lincoln. He held to a more classical tradition of sculpture, mostly preferring depictions of real subjects in a lifelike way. When he was awarded a contract for the Mormon Battalion Monument in Salt Lake City, he moved with his family to Utah in August, 1926. There, he opened a studio to work on the piece dedicated to the 500 Mormons who joined the US Army during the Mexican War, which would become one of his best known works. After finishing the monument, convinced of Los Angeles' potential for great artistic development—and perhaps drawn by his interest in sculpting modern performers—he moved to California in the early 1930s. He died in Hollywood in 1938.
Written by Katherine Aanensen, AB in Geographical Studies, 2016