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Influenced by the nineteenth-century French sculptor of animals, Antoine-Louis Barye, Arthur Putnam was a San Francisco artist who sculpted a prodigious number of animal and human figures. Small Combat, with its emphasis on animal vitality and the ferocious forces of nature, is characteristic of his work. After the earthquake of 1906, Putnam completed many architectural commissions, including the reliefs of The Winning of the West for the light poles on Market Street in San Francisco, which remain in place today. His works were exhibited at the Salons of Rome where they were praised by Rodin. His work was represented in the Armory Show in 1913, and he received a gold medal at the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition of 1915 in San Francisco. Arthur Putnam was the brother of the Salem newspaper publisher George Putnam, for whom Putnam University Center at Willamette is named.