Charles Schreyvogel was Frederic Remington’s chief rival during the early years of the 20th century. Unlike Remington, Schreyvogel never worked as an illustrator, seeking instead to establish his reputation as a painter and lithographer. He was born in New York City and in 1886 went to Germany to study at the Munich Academy. Returning to America, he set up a studio in Hoboken, New Jersey, which was then a rural town surrounded by fields and marshlands.
In 1893 Schreyvogel made his first journey to the Ute reservation at Ignacio, in the southwestern corner of Colorado. This trip, and others following it, resulted in field sketches that he used to depict some of the most popular renditions of American cavalry officers and their Indian adversaries.
Schreyvogel continued as a lithographic artist while his paintings of Western Army life did not sell. One of these paintings was My Bunkie, a dramatic Western scene of a cavalryman rescuing an unhorsed comrade from pursuing Indians, which he entered in the 1900 National Academy exhibition without leaving his address. When My Bunkie won the highest prize of $300, Schreyvogel became immediately successful. That same year, Schreyvogel went west again, sketching troopers and Indians in the Dakotas for a series of paintings on the Western Army. Three years later, Remington called Schreyvogel’s work “half baked stuff,” but the soldiers depicted spoke up for him. Indeed, his highly publicized debate with Remington over the authenticity of his painting Custer’s Demand resulted in an outpouring of support from relatives and friends of Custer, including his widow, Elizabeth, President Theodore Roosevelt and Col. J. S. Crosby, himself depicted in the work.
After the death of Remington in 1909, Schreyvogel was proclaimed “the greatest living interpreter of the Old West.” “He is more than a historian of the Indian,” one writer observed. “He is giving us an invaluable record of those perilous days of the western frontier when a handful of brave men blazed the path for civilization and extended the boundaries of empire for a growing nation.”
His output was limited to relatively few major works per year because of the number of his research trips and the size of the paintings, but reproductions were widely published. One set of these was in the form of “platinum prints,” that is, large photographs. When he died in 1912 from blood poisoning after a chicken bone stuck in his gum, he left fewer than 100 known paintings, although there were clay models that were later cast into bronze. His studio and collection are on permanent display at the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City.
Reference: The American West: Legendary Artists of the Frontier, edited by Dr. Rick Stewart, AskArt.com