Organizations* : ANA, NIAL
Frederic Remington’s art so completely dominated the popular imagination concerning the West in his lifetime that historians are still coming to grips with its legacy. Born and raised in Canton, New York, from a very young age, Remington showed artistic inclinations. His school notebooks were full of sketches, often depicting Old West characters and equestrian figures. Remington enrolled in the Yale Art School before traveling west in 1881 in order to work on a ranch. Two years later he purchased land in Kansas and attempted life as a sheep rancher, but eventually was drawn more and more toward a career as an artist. Remington knew that there was a growing national awareness of the West as a uniquely American region and of the mounted horseman as its symbol.
Moving to New York, he went to work for Harper and Brothers and became their most popular illustrator in a very short period of time. He embarked on a regular series of assignments that took him back to his beloved West, where he sketched and gathered material that would find its way into his voluminous writings, illustrations and paintings of life on the frontier. Publishers used everything he sent them because his experiences were so fascinating to Easterners. Regarding himself always as a fine artist, he regularly sent paintings to New York City from the West for exhibition at the National Academy of Design and the American Watercolor Society.
Many of his earliest sketches and paintings depicted Apache conflicts and their great chief, Geronimo. These tightly rendered and dramatic depictions are accentuated by the brilliant and dusty colors reminiscent of the desert. Remington’s later style involved an increasing looseness in his brushwork; painted in short, occasionally broad strokes, one senses the dash and flair that Remington was able to transmit in a story, elevating it to the status of art.
He was ever fascinated by the motion of horses and took many photos of them in the newly invented roll film box camera. He painted and sculpted the animals often, frequently at full gallop, but always juxtaposed them with human figures, never drawing single horse portraits. The same was true of his landscapes, which invariably had human activity in them. In 1895, he began working in bronze and cast his famous work, The Bronco Buster. He became so enamored of sculpting that his painting quality deteriorated.
He died suddenly of appendicitis at his home in Connecticut at the age of 48.
Reference: The American West: Legendary Artists of the Frontier, edited by Dr. Rick Stewart, AskArt.com