Frederic Remington
Frederic Sackrider Remington (October 4, 1861 – December 26, 1909) was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

, illustrator
An Illustrator is a narrative artist who specializes in enhancing writing by providing a visual representation that corresponds to the content of the associated text...

, sculptor
Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials—typically stone such as marble—or metal, glass, or wood. Softer materials can also be used, such as clay, textiles, plastics, polymers and softer metals...

, and writer
A writer is a person who produces literature, such as novels, short stories, plays, screenplays, poetry, or other literary art. Skilled writers are able to use language to portray ideas and images....

 who specialized in depictions of the Old American West
American Old West
The American Old West, or the Wild West, comprises the history, geography, people, lore, and cultural expression of life in the Western United States, most often referring to the latter half of the 19th century, between the American Civil War and the end of the century...

, specifically concentrating on the last quarter of the 19th century American West and images of cowboy
A cowboy is an animal herder who tends cattle on ranches in North America, traditionally on horseback, and often performs a multitude of other ranch-related tasks. The historic American cowboy of the late 19th century arose from the vaquero traditions of northern Mexico and became a figure of...

s, American Indians
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

, and the U. S. Cavalry.

Early life

Remington was born in Canton, New York
Canton (village), New York
Canton is a village in St. Lawrence County, New York, United States. The village is centrally located in both the town of Canton and the county of St. Lawrence. The population was 5,882 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of St. Lawrence County...

 in 1861 to Seth Pierre Remington (1830–1880) and Clara Bascomb Sackrider, whose paternal family owned hardware stores and emigrated from Alsace-Lorraine
The Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine was a territory created by the German Empire in 1871 after it annexed most of Alsace and the Moselle region of Lorraine following its victory in the Franco-Prussian War. The Alsatian part lay in the Rhine Valley on the west bank of the Rhine River and east...

 in the early 18th century. Remington’s father was a colonel in the Civil War whose family arrived in the United States from England in 1637. He was a newspaper editor and postmaster, and the family was active in local politics and staunchly Republican. One of Remington’s great grandfathers, Samuel Bascom, was a saddle maker by trade, and the Remingtons were fine horsemen. Frederic Remington was related by family bloodlines to Indian portrait artist George Catlin
George Catlin
George Catlin was an American painter, author and traveler who specialized in portraits of Native Americans in the Old West.-Early years:...

 and cowboy sculptor Earl W. Bascom
Earl W. Bascom
Earl W. Bascom was an American painter, printmaker, rodeo performer and sculptor, raised in Canada, who portrayed his own experiences cowboying and rodeoing across the American and Canadian West.- Childhood :...


Colonel Remington was away at war during most of the first four years of his son’s life. After the war, he moved his family to Bloomington, Illinois
Bloomington, Illinois
Bloomington is a city in McLean County, Illinois, United States and the county seat. It is adjacent to Normal, Illinois, and is the more populous of the two principal municipalities of the Bloomington-Normal metropolitan area...

 for a brief time and was appointed editor of the Bloomington Republican, but the family returned to Canton in 1867. Remington was the only child of the marriage, and received constant attention and approval. He was an active child, large and strong for his age, who loved to hunt, swim, ride, and go camping. He was a poor student, though, particularly in math, which did not bode well for his father’s ambitions for his son to attend West Point. He began to make drawings and sketches of soldiers and cowboys at an early age.

The family moved to Ogdensburg, New York
Ogdensburg, New York
Ogdensburg is a city in St. Lawrence County, New York, United States. The population was 11,128 at the 2010 census. In the late 18th century, European-American settlers named the community after American land owner and developer Samuel Ogden....

 when Remington was eleven and he attended Vermont Episcopal Institute, a church-run military school, where his father hoped discipline would rein in his son’s lack of focus, and perhaps lead to a military career. Remington took his first drawing lessons at the Institute. He then transferred to another military school where his classmates found the young Remington to be a pleasant fellow, a bit careless and lazy, good-humored, and generous of spirit, but definitely not soldier material. He enjoyed making caricatures and silhouettes of his classmates. At sixteen, he wrote to his uncle of his modest ambitions, “I never intend to do any great amount of labor. I have but one short life and do not aspire to wealth or fame in a degree which could only be obtained by an extraordinary effort on my part”. He imagined a career for himself as a journalist, with art as a sideline.

Remington attended the art school at Yale University
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

, the only male in the freshman year. However, he found that football and boxing were more interesting than the formal art training, particularly drawing from casts and still life objects. He preferred action drawing and his first published illustration was a cartoon of a “bandaged football player” for the student newspaper Yale Courant. Though he was not a star player, his participation on the strong Yale football team was a great source of pride for Remington and his family. He left Yale in 1879 to tend to his ailing father who had tuberculosis. His father died a year later, at age forty-six, receiving respectful recognition from the citizens of Ogdensburg. Remington’s Uncle Mart secured a good paying clerical job for his nephew in Albany, New York
Albany, New York
Albany is the capital city of the U.S. state of New York, the seat of Albany County, and the central city of New York's Capital District. Roughly north of New York City, Albany sits on the west bank of the Hudson River, about south of its confluence with the Mohawk River...

 and Remington would return home on weekends to see his girlfriend Eva Caten. After the rejection of his engagement proposal to Eva by her father, Remington became a reporter for his Uncle Mart’s newspaper, then went on to other short-lived jobs.

Living off his inheritance and modest work income, Remington refused to go back to art school and instead spent time camping and enjoying himself. At nineteen, he made his first trip west, going to Montana, at first to buy a cattle operation then a mining interest but realized he did not have sufficient capital for either. In the Ol’ West of 1881, he saw the vast prairies, the quickly shrinking buffalo herds, the still unfenced cattle, and the last major confrontations of U.S. Cavalry and native American tribes, scenes he had imagined since his childhood. He also hunted grizzly bears with Montague Stevens in New Mexico in 1895 . Though the trip was undertaken as a lark, it gave Remington a more authentic view of the West than some of the later artists and writers who followed in his footsteps, such as N. C. Wyeth
N. C. Wyeth
Newell Convers Wyeth , known as N.C. Wyeth, was an American artist and illustrator. He was the pupil of artist Howard Pyle and became one of America's greatest illustrators...

 and Zane Grey
Zane Grey
Zane Grey was an American author best known for his popular adventure novels and stories that presented an idealized image of the Old West. Riders of the Purple Sage was his bestselling book. In addition to the success of his printed works, they later had second lives and continuing influence...

, who arrived twenty-five years later when the Ol’ West had slipped into history. From that first trip, Harper's Weekly
Harper's Weekly
Harper's Weekly was an American political magazine based in New York City. Published by Harper & Brothers from 1857 until 1916, it featured foreign and domestic news, fiction, essays on many subjects, and humor...

published Remington’s first published commercial effort, a re-drawing of a quick sketch on wrapping paper that he had mailed back East. In 1883, Remington went to rural Peabody, Kansas, to try his hand at the booming sheep ranching and wool trade, as one of the “holiday stockmen”, rich young Easterners out to make a quick killing as ranch owners. He invested his entire inheritance but Remington found ranching to be a rough, boring, isolated occupation which deprived him of the finer things of Eastern life, and the real ranchers thought of him as lazy.
Remington continued sketching but at this point his results were still cartoonish and amateur. After less than a year, he sold his ranch and went home. After acquiring more capital from his mother, he returned to Kansas City to start a hardware business, but due to an alleged swindle, it failed, and he reinvested his remaining money as a silent, half-owner of a saloon. He went home to marry Eva Caten in 1884 and they returned to Kansas City immediately. She was unhappy with his saloon life and was unimpressed by the sketches of saloon inhabitants that Remington regularly showed her. When his real occupation became known, she left him and returned to Ogdensburg. With his wife gone and with business doing badly, Remington started to sketch and paint in earnest, and bartered his sketches for essentials.

He soon had enough success selling his paintings to locals to see art as a real profession. Remington returned home again, his inheritance gone but his faith in his new career secured, reunited with his wife and moved to Brooklyn
Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...

. He began studies at the Art Students League of New York
Art Students League of New York
The Art Students League of New York is an art school located on West 57th Street in New York City. The League has historically been known for its broad appeal to both amateurs and professional artists, and has maintained for over 130 years a tradition of offering reasonably priced classes on a...

 and significantly bolstered his fresh though still rough technique. His timing was excellent as newspaper interest in the dying West was escalating. He submitted illustrations, sketches, and other works for publication with Western themes to Collier's and Harper's Weekly, as his recent Western experiences (highly exaggerated) and his hearty, breezy “cowboy” demeanor gained him credibility with the eastern publishers looking for authenticity. His first full page cover under his own name appeared in Harper's Weekly on January 9, 1886, when he was twenty-five. With financial backing from his Uncle Bill, Remington was able to pursue his art career and support his wife.

Early career

In 1886, Remington was sent to Arizona by Harper's Weekly on a commission as an artist-correspondent to cover the government’s war against Geronimo
Geronimo was a prominent Native American leader of the Chiricahua Apache who fought against Mexico and the United States for their expansion into Apache tribal lands for several decades during the Apache Wars. Allegedly, "Geronimo" was the name given to him during a Mexican incident...

. Although he never caught up with Geronimo, Remington did acquire many authentic artifacts to be used later as props, and made many photos and sketches valuable for later paintings. He also made notes on the true colors of the West, such as “shadows of horses should be a cool carmine & Blue”, to supplement the black-and-white photos. Ironically, art critics later criticized his palette as “primitive and unnatural” even though it was based on actual observation.

After returning East, Remington was sent by Harper's Weekly to cover the Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is the second largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina. It was made the county seat of Charleston County in 1901 when Charleston County was founded. The city's original name was Charles Towne in 1670, and it moved to its present location from a location on the west bank of the...

 earthquake of 1886. To expand his commission work, he also began doing drawings for Outing
Outing (magazine)
Outing was a late-nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American magazine covering a variety of sporting activities. It began publication in 1882 as the Wheelman and had four title changes before ceasing publication in 1923....

magazine. His first year as a commercial artist had been successful, earning Remington $1,200, almost triple that of a typical teacher. He had found his life’s work and bragged to a friend, “That’s a pretty good break for an ex cow-puncher to come to New York with $30 and catch on it ‘art’."
For commercial reproduction in black-and-white, he produced ink and wash
Wash (painting)
thumb|Example of a wash drawing by [[R. G. Skerrett]].A wash is a painting technique in which a paint brush that is very wet with solvent and holds a small paint load is applied to a wet or dry support such as paper or primed or raw canvas. The result is a smooth and uniform area that ideally lacks...

 drawings. As he added watercolor, he began to sell his work in art exhibitions. His works were selling well but garnered no prizes, as the competition was strong and masters like Winslow Homer
Winslow Homer
Winslow Homer was an American landscape painter and printmaker, best known for his marine subjects. He is considered one of the foremost painters in 19th century America and a preeminent figure in American art....

 and Eastman Johnson
Eastman Johnson
Eastman Johnson was an American painter, and Co-Founder of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, with his name inscribed at its entrance...

 were considered his superiors. A trip to Canada in 1887, produced illustrations of the Blackfoot
The Blackfoot Confederacy or Niitsítapi is the collective name of three First Nations in Alberta and one Native American tribe in Montana....

, the Crow Nation
Crow Nation
The Crow, also called the Absaroka or Apsáalooke, are a Siouan people of Native Americans who historically lived in the Yellowstone River valley, which extends from present-day Wyoming, through Montana and into North Dakota. They now live on a reservation south of Billings, Montana and in several...

, and the Canadian Mounties, eagerly enjoyed by the reading public.

Later that year, Remington received a commission to do eighty-three illustrations for a book by Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

, Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail, to be serialized in The Century Magazine
The Century Magazine
The Century Magazine was first published in the United States in 1881 by The Century Company of New York City as a successor to Scribner's Monthly Magazine...

before publication. The 25-year-old Roosevelt had a similar Western adventure to Remington, losing money on a ranch in North Dakota the previous year but gaining experience which made him an “expert” on the West. The assignment gave Remington’s career a big boost and forged a lifelong connection with Roosevelt.
His full-color oil painting Return of the Blackfoot War Party was exhibited at the National Academy of Design
National Academy of Design
The National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts, founded in New York City as the National Academy of Design – known simply as the "National Academy" – is an honorary association of American artists founded in 1825 by Samuel F. B. Morse, Asher B. Durand, Thomas Cole, Martin E...

 and the New York Herald
New York Herald
The New York Herald was a large distribution newspaper based in New York City that existed between May 6, 1835, and 1924.-History:The first issue of the paper was published by James Gordon Bennett, Sr., on May 6, 1835. By 1845 it was the most popular and profitable daily newspaper in the UnitedStates...

commented that Remington would “one day be listed among our great American painters”. Though not admired by all critics, Remington’s work was deemed “distinctive” and “modern”. By now, he was demonstrating the ability to handle complex compositions with ease, as in Mule Train Crossing the Sierras (1888), and to show action from all points of view His status as the new trendsetter in Western art was solidified in 1889 when he won a second-class medal at the Paris Exposition. He had been selected by the American committee to represent American painting, over Albert Bierstadt
Albert Bierstadt
Albert Bierstadt was a German-American painter best known for his lavish, sweeping landscapes of the American West. In obtaining the subject matter for these works, Bierstadt joined several journeys of the Westward Expansion...

 whose majestic, large-scale landscapes peopled with tiny figures of pioneers and Indians was now considered passé.

Around this time, Remington made a gentleman’s agreement with Harper's Weekly, giving the magazine an informal first option on his output but maintaining Remington’s independence to sell elsewhere if desired. As a bonus, the magazine launched a massive promotional campaign for Remington, stating that “He draws what he knows, and he knows what he draws.” Though laced with blatant puffery (common for the time) claiming that Remington was a bona fide cowboy and Indian scout, the effect of the campaign was to raise Remington to the equal of the era’s top illustrators, Howard Pyle
Howard Pyle
Howard Pyle was an American illustrator and author, primarily of books for young people. A native of Wilmington, Delaware, he spent the last year of his life in Florence, Italy.__FORCETOC__...

 and Charles Dana Gibson
Charles Dana Gibson
Charles Dana Gibson was an American graphic artist, best known for his creation of the Gibson Girl, an iconic representation of the beautiful and independent American woman at the turn of the 20th century....


His first one-man show, in 1890, presented twenty-one paintings at the American Art Galleries and was very well received. With success all but assured, Remington became established in society. His personality, his “pseudo-cowboy” speaking manner, and “Wild West” reputation were strong social attractions. His biography falsely promoted some of the myths he encouraged about his Western experiences.
Remington’s regular attendance at celebrity banquets and stag dinners, however, though helpful to his career, fostered prodigious eating and drinking which caused his girth to expand alarmingly. Obesity became a constant problem for him from then on. Among his urban friends and fellow artists, he was “a man among men, a deuce of a good fellow” but notable because he (facetiously) “never drew but two women in his life, and they were failures” (not counting Indian women).

In 1890, Remington and his wife moved to New Rochelle, New York
New Rochelle, New York
New Rochelle is a city in Westchester County, New York, United States, in the southeastern portion of the state.The town was settled by refugee Huguenots in 1688 who were fleeing persecution in France...

 in order to have both more living space and extensive studio facilities, and also with the hope of gaining more exercise. The community was close to New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 affording easy access to the publishing houses and galleries necessary for the artist, and also rural enough to provide him with the space he needed for horseback riding, and other physical activities that relieved the long hours of concentration required by his work. Moreover, an artists' colony had developed in the town, so that the Remington’s counted among their neighbor’s writers, actors, and artists such as Francis Wilson, Julian Hawthorne
Julian Hawthorne
Julian Hawthorne was an American writer and journalist, the son of novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne and Sophia Peabody. He wrote numerous poems, novels, short stories, mystery/detective fiction, essays, travel books, biographies and histories...

, Edward Kemble, and Augustus Thomas
Augustus Thomas
Augustus Thomas was an American playwright, born in St. Louis, Missouri. The son of a doctor, he worked a number of jobs including a page in the 41st Congress, studying law and gaining some practical railway work experience before he turned to journalism and became editor of the Kansas City Mirror...


The Remington’s substantial Gothic revival house was situated at 301 Webster Avenue, on a prestigious promontory known as “Lathers Hill”. A sweeping lawn rolled south toward Long Island Sound
Long Island Sound
Long Island Sound is an estuary of the Atlantic Ocean, located in the United States between Connecticut to the north and Long Island, New York to the south. The mouth of the Connecticut River at Old Saybrook, Connecticut, empties into the sound. On its western end the sound is bounded by the Bronx...

, providing views on three sides of the beautiful Westchester County countryside. Remington called it “Endion”, an Ojibwa word meaning "the place where I live." In the early years, no real studio existed at "Endion" and Remington did most of his work in a large attic under the homes front gable
A gable is the generally triangular portion of a wall between the edges of a sloping roof. The shape of the gable and how it is detailed depends on the structural system being used and aesthetic concerns. Thus the type of roof enclosing the volume dictates the shape of the gable...

 where he stored materials collected on his many western excursions. Later he used his library on the main floor, a larger, more comfortable room that soon took on the cluttered appearance of an atelier. However, neither situation was completely satisfactory: the space was limited, the light was less than adequate, and the surroundings were generally uninspiring. In the spring of 1896 Remington retained the New Rochelle architect O. William Degen to plan a studio addition to the house. An article in the New Rochelle Pioneer of April 26 touted the "fine architectural design" of the studio. Remington himself wrote to his friend the novelist Owen Wister:

Have concluded to build a butler's pantry and a studio (Czar size) on my house—we will be torn [up] for a month and then will ask you to come over—throw your eye on the march of improvement and say this is a great thing for American art. The fireplace is going to be like this.—Old Norman house—Big—big.

Mature career

Remington’s fame made him a favorite of the Western Army officers fighting the last Indian battles. He was invited out West to make their portraits in the field and to gain them national publicity through Remington’s articles and illustrations for Harper's Weekly, particularly General Nelson Miles, an Indian fighter who aspired to the presidency of the United States. In turn, Remington got exclusive access to the soldiers and their stories and boosted his reputation with the reading public as “The Soldier Artist”. One of his 1889 paintings depicts eight cavalrymen shooting at Apaches in the rear as they attempt to outrun the Indians. Another painting that year depicts cavalrymen in an Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

Dust storm
A dust / sand storm is a meteorological phenomenon common in arid and semi-arid regions. Dust storms arise when a gust front or other strong wind blows loose sand and dirt from a dry surface. Particles are transported by saltation and suspension, causing soil to move from one place and deposition...

. Remington wrote that the "heat was awful and the dust rose in clouds. Men get sulky and go into a comatose state -- the fine alkali dust penetrates everything but the canteens."

Remington arrived on the scene just after the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee
Wounded Knee Massacre
The Wounded Knee Massacre happened on December 29, 1890, near Wounded Knee Creek on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, USA. On the day before, a detachment of the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment commanded by Major Samuel M...

, South Dakota
South Dakota
South Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux American Indian tribes. Once a part of Dakota Territory, South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889. The state has an area of and an estimated population of just over...

, in which 150 Sioux, mostly women and children, were slaughtered after they opened fire on American soldiers. He reported the event as "The Sioux Outbreak in South Dakota", having hailed the Army’s "heroic" actions toward the Indians. Some of the Miles paintings are monochromatic and have an almost “you-are-there” photographic quality, heightening the realism, as in The Parley (1898)

Remington’s Self-Portrait on a Horse (1890) shows the artist as he wished he was, not the pot-bellied Easterner weighing heavily on a horse, but a tough, lean cowboy heading for adventure with his trusty steed. It was the image his publishers worked hard to maintain as well. In His Last Stand (1890), a cornered bear in the middle of a prairie is brought down by dogs and riflemen, which may have been a symbolized treatment of the dying Indians he had witnessed. Remington’s attitude toward Native Americans was typical for the time. He thought them unfathomable, fearless, superstitious, ignorant, and pitiless—and generally portrayed them as such. White men under attack were brave and noble.

Through the 1890s, Remington took frequent trips around the U.S., Mexico, and abroad to gather ideas for articles and illustrations, but his military and cowboy subjects always sold the best, even as the Old West was playing out. In 1892, he painted "A Cavalryman's Breakfast on the Plains". Gradually, he transitioned from the premiere chronicler-artist of the Old West to its most important historian-artist. He formed an effective partnership with Owen Wister
Owen Wister
Owen Wister was an American writer and "father" of western fiction.-Early life:Owen Wister was born on July 14, 1860, in Germantown, a well-known neighborhood in the northwestern part of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father, Owen Jones Wister, was a wealthy physician, one of a long line of...

, who became the leading writer of Western stories at the time. Having more confidence of his craft, Remington wrote, “ My drawing is done entirely from memory. I never use a camera now. The interesting never occurs in nature as a whole, but in pieces. It’s more what I leave out than what I add.” Remington’s focus continued on outdoor action and he rarely depicted scenes in gambling and dance halls typically seen in Western movies. He avoids frontier women as well. His painting A Misdeal (1897) is a rare instance of indoor cowboy violence.

Remington’s had developed a sculptor’s 360 degree sense of vision but until a chance remark by playwright Augustus Thomas in 1895, Remington had not yet conceived of himself as a sculptor and thought of it as a separate art for which he had no training or aptitude. With help from friend and sculptor Frederick Ruckstuhl, Remington constructed his first armature and clay model, a “broncho buster” where the horse is reared on its hind legs—technically a very challenging subject. After several months, the novice sculptor overcame the difficulties and had a plaster cast made, then bronze copies, which were sold at Tiffany’s. Remington was ecstatic about his new line of work, and though critical response was mixed, some labelling it negatively as “illustrated sculpture”, it was a successful first effort earning him $6,000 over three years.

During that busy year, Remington became further immersed in military matters, inventing a new type of ammunition carrier; but his patented invention was not accepted for use by the War Department. His favorite subject for magazine illustration was now military scenes, though he admitted, “Cowboys are cash with me”. Sensing the political mood of that time, he was looking forward to a military conflict which would provide the opportunity to be a heroic war correspondent, giving me both new subject matter and the excitement of battle. He was growing bored with routine illustration, and he wrote to Howard Pyle
Howard Pyle
Howard Pyle was an American illustrator and author, primarily of books for young people. A native of Wilmington, Delaware, he spent the last year of his life in Florence, Italy.__FORCETOC__...

, the dean of American illustrators, that he had “done nothing but potboil of late”. (Earlier, he and Pyle in a gesture of mutual respect had exchanged paintings—Pyle’s painting of a dead pirate for Remington’s of a rough and ready cowpuncher). He was still working very hard, spending seven days a week in his studio.

Remington was further irritated by the lack of his acceptance to regular membership by the Academy, likely because of his image as a popular, cocky, and ostentatious artist. Remington kept up his contact with celebrities and politicos, and continued to woo Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

, now the New York City Police Commissioner, by sending him complimentary editions of new works. Despite Roosevelt’s great admiration for Remington, he never purchased a Remington painting or drawing.
Remington’s association with Roosevelt paid off, however, when the artist became a war correspondent and illustrator during the Spanish-American War
Spanish-American War
The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, effectively the result of American intervention in the ongoing Cuban War of Independence...

 in 1898, sent to provide illustrations for William Randolph Hearst
William Randolph Hearst
William Randolph Hearst was an American business magnate and leading newspaper publisher. Hearst entered the publishing business in 1887, after taking control of The San Francisco Examiner from his father...

’s New York Journal. He witnessed the assault on San Juan Hill
Battle of San Juan Hill
The Battle of San Juan Hill , also known as the battle for the San Juan Heights, was a decisive battle of the Spanish-American War. The San Juan heights was a north-south running elevation about two kilometers east of Santiago de Cuba. The names San Juan Hill and Kettle Hill were names given by the...

 by American forces, including those led by Roosevelt. However, his heroic conception of war, based in part on his father’s Civil War experiences, were shattered by the actual horror of jungle fighting and the deprivations he faced in camp. His reports and illustrations upon his return focused not on heroic generals but on the troops, as in his Scream of the Shrapnel (1899), which depicts a deadly ambush on American troops by an unseen enemy. When the Rough Riders returned to the U.S., they presented their courageous leader Roosevelt with Remington’s bronze statuette, The Broncho Buster, which the artist proclaimed, “the greatest compliment I ever had…After this everything will be mere fuss.” Roosevelt responded, “There could have been no more appropriate gift from such a regiment.”
In 1888, he achieved the public honor of having two paintings used for reproduction on U. S. Postal stamps. In 1900, as an economy move, Harper’s dropped Remington as their star artist. To compensate for the loss of work, Remington wrote and illustrated a full-length novel, The Way of an Indian, which was intended for serialization by a Hearst publication but not published until five years later in Cosmopolitan
Cosmopolitan (magazine)
Cosmopolitan is an international magazine for women. It was first published in 1886 in the United States as a family magazine, was later transformed into a literary magazine and eventually became a women's magazine in the late 1960s...

. Remington’s protagonist, a Cheyenne named Fire Eater, is a prototype Native American as viewed by Remington and many of his time.

Remington then returned to sculpture, and produced his first works produced by the lost wax method, a higher quality process than the earlier sand casting method he had employed. By 1901, Collier's was buying Remington’s illustrations on a steady basis. As his style matured, Remington portrayed his subjects in every light of day. His nocturnal paintings, very popular in his late life, such as A Taint on the Wind and Scare in the Pack Train, are more impressionistic and loosely painted, and focus on the unseen threat.

Remington completed another novel in 1902, John Ermine of the Yellowstone, a modest success but a definite disappointment as it was completely overshadowed by the best seller The Virginian
The Virginian (novel)
This page is about the novel, for other uses see The Virginian .The Virginian is a pioneering 1902 novel set in the Wild West by the American author Owen Wister...

, written by his sometime collaborator Owen Wister, which became a classic Western novel. A stage play based on “John Ermine” failed in 1904. After “John Ermine”, Remington decided he would soon quit writing and illustration (after drawing over 2700 illustrations) to focus on sculpture and painting.
In 1903, Remington painted His First Lesson set on an American-owned ranch in Chihuahua
Chihuahua, Mexico
Chihuahua, Mexico, may refer to:* The State of Chihuahua in Mexico* The City of Chihuahua, Chihuahua, its capital...

, Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

. The hands wear heavy chaps, starched white shirts, and slouch-brimmed hats. In his paintings, Remington sought to let his audience "take away something to think about -- to imagine." In 1905, Remington had a major publicity coup when Collier's devoted an entire issue to the artist, showcasing his latest works. His large outdoor sculpture of a “Big Cowboy”, which stands on the Kelly Drive in Philadelphia, was another late success. His “Explorers” series, depicting older historical events in western U.S. history, did not fare well with the public or the critics. The financial panic of 1907 caused a slow down in his sales and in 1908, fantasy artists, such as Maxfield Parrish
Maxfield Parrish
Maxfield Parrish was an American painter and illustrator active in the first half of the twentieth century. He is known for his distinctive saturated hues and idealized neo-classical imagery.-Life:...

, became popular with the public and with commercial sponsors. Remington tried to sell his home in New Rochelle to get further away from urbanization. One night he made a bonfire in his yard and burned dozens of his oil paintings which had been used for magazine illustration (worth millions of dollars today), making an emphatic statement that he was done with illustration forever. He wrote, “there is nothing left but my landscape studies”. Near the end of his life, he moved to Ridgefield, Connecticut
Ridgefield, Connecticut
Ridgefield is a town in Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States. Situated in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains, the 300-year-old community had a population of 24,638 at the 2010 census. The town center, which was formerly a borough, is defined by the U.S...

. In his final two years, under the influence of The Ten
Ten American Painters
The Ten American Painters, generally known as The Ten, resigned from the Society of American Artists in late 1897 to protest the commercialism of that group's exhibitions, and their circus-like atmosphere...

, he was veering more heavily to Impressionism
Impressionism was a 19th-century art movement that originated with a group of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence during the 1870s and 1880s...

, and he regretted that he was studio bound (by virtue of his declining health) and could not follow his peers who painted “plein air”.

Frederic Remington died after an emergency appendectomy led to peritonitis
Peritonitis is an inflammation of the peritoneum, the serous membrane that lines part of the abdominal cavity and viscera. Peritonitis may be localised or generalised, and may result from infection or from a non-infectious process.-Abdominal pain and tenderness:The main manifestations of...

 on December 26, 1909. His extreme obesity (weight nearly 300 pounds) had complicated the anesthesia and the surgery, and chronic appendicitis was cited in the post-mortem examination as an underlying factor in his death. He was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Canton, New York
Canton (village), New York
Canton is a village in St. Lawrence County, New York, United States. The village is centrally located in both the town of Canton and the county of St. Lawrence. The population was 5,882 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of St. Lawrence County...


The Frederick Remington House was declared a National Historic Landmark
National Historic Landmark
A National Historic Landmark is a building, site, structure, object, or district, that is officially recognized by the United States government for its historical significance...

 in 1965. He was the great-uncle of the artist Deborah Remington
Deborah Remington
Deborah Remington was an American painter. She lived and worked in New York City and Pennsylvania. Remington was a veteran of more than 30 solo exhibitions and hundreds of group exhibitions including 3 Whitney Museum of American Art annuals...

. In 2009, the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 enacted legislation renaming the historic Post Office in Ogdensburg, New York
Ogdensburg, New York
Ogdensburg is a city in St. Lawrence County, New York, United States. The population was 11,128 at the 2010 census. In the late 18th century, European-American settlers named the community after American land owner and developer Samuel Ogden....

 the Frederic Remington Post Office Building
U.S. Post Office (Ogdensburg, New York)
U.S. Post Office-Ogdensburg is a historic post office building located at Ogdensburg in St. Lawrence County, New York. It was designed and built in 1867-1870, and is a two story structure of regular ashlar stone blocks measuring 120 feet by 60 feet. It originally features an octagonal domed...


Style and influence

Remington was the most successful Western illustrator in the “Golden Age” of illustration at the end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th Century, so much so that the other Western artists such as Charles Russell
Charles Marion Russell
Charles Marion Russell , also known as C. M. Russell, Charlie Russell, and "Kid" Russell, was an artist of the Old American West. Russell created more than 2,000 paintings of cowboys, Indians, and landscapes set in the Western United States, in addition to bronze sculptures...

 and Charles Schreyvogel
Charles Schreyvogel
Charles Schreyvogel was a painter of Western subject matter in the days of the disappearing frontier. Schreyvogel was especially interested in military life....

 were known during Remington’s life as members of the “School of Remington”. His style was naturalistic, sometimes impressionistic, and usually veered away from the ethnographic realism of earlier Western artists such as George Catlin
George Catlin
George Catlin was an American painter, author and traveler who specialized in portraits of Native Americans in the Old West.-Early years:...

. His focus was firmly on the people and animals of the West, with landscape usually of secondary importance, unlike the members and descendants of the Hudson River School
Hudson River school
The Hudson River School was a mid-19th century American art movement embodied by a group of landscape painters whose aesthetic vision was influenced by romanticism...

, such as Frederic Edwin Church
Frederic Edwin Church
Frederic Edwin Church was an American landscape painter born in Hartford, Connecticut. He was a central figure in the Hudson River School of American landscape painters...

, Albert Bierstadt, and Thomas Moran
Thomas Moran
Thomas Moran from Bolton, England was an American painter and printmaker of the Hudson River School in New York whose work often featured the Rocky Mountains. Moran and his family took residence in New York where he obtained work as an artist...

, who glorified the vastness of the West and the dominance of nature over man. He took artistic liberties in his depictions of human action, and for the sake of his readers’ and publishers’ interest. Though always confident in his subject matter, Remington was less sure about his colors, and critics often harped on his palette, but his lack of confidence drove him to experiment and produce a great variety of effects, some very true to nature and some imagined.

His collaboration with Owen Wister
Owen Wister
Owen Wister was an American writer and "father" of western fiction.-Early life:Owen Wister was born on July 14, 1860, in Germantown, a well-known neighborhood in the northwestern part of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father, Owen Jones Wister, was a wealthy physician, one of a long line of...

 on The Evolution of the Cowpuncher, published by Harper’s Monthly in September 1893, was the first statement of the mythical cowboy in American literature, spawning the entire genre of Western fiction, films, and theater that followed. Remington provided the concept of the project, its factual content, and its illustrations and Wister supplied the stories, sometimes altering Remington’s ideas. (Remington’s prototype cowboys were Mexican rancheros but Wister made the American cowboys descendants of Saxons—in truth, they were both partially right, as the first American cowboys were both the ranchers who tended the cattle and horses of the American Revolutionary army on Long Island and the Mexicans who ranched in the Arizona and California territories).

Remington was one of the first American artists to illustrate the true gait of the horse in motion (along with Thomas Eakins
Thomas Eakins
Thomas Cowperthwait Eakins was an American realist painter, photographer, sculptor, and fine arts educator...

), as validated by the famous sequential photographs of Eadweard Muybridge
Eadweard Muybridge
Eadweard J. Muybridge was an English photographer who spent much of his life in the United States. He is known for his pioneering work on animal locomotion which used multiple cameras to capture motion, and his zoopraxiscope, a device for projecting motion pictures that pre-dated the flexible...

. Previously, horses in full gallop were usually depicted with all four legs pointing out, like “hobby horses”. The galloping horse became Remington’s signature subject, copied and interpreted by many Western artists who followed him, adopting the correct anatomical motion. Though criticized by some for his use of photography, Remington often created depictions that slightly exaggerated natural motion to satisfy the eye. He wrote, “the artist must know more than the camera... (the horse must be) incorrectly drawn from the photographic standpoint (to achieve the desired effect).”

Also, noteworthy was Remington’s invention of “cowboy” sculpture. From his inaugural piece, The Broncho Buster (1895), he created an art form which is still very popular among collectors of Western art.

An early advocate of the photoengraving process over wood engraving for magazine reproduction of illustrative art, Remington became an accepted expert in reproduction methods, which helped gain him strong working relationships with editors and printers. Furthermore, Remington’s skill as a businessman was equal to his artistry, unlike many other artists who relied on their spouses or business agents or no one at all to run their financial affairs. He was an effective publicist and promoter of his art. He insisted that his originals be handled carefully and returned to him in pristine condition (without editor’s marks) so he could sell them. He carefully regulated his output to maximize his income and kept detailed notes about his works and his sales.
In 1991 the PBS
Public Broadcasting Service
The Public Broadcasting Service is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia....

 series American Masters
American Masters
American Masters is a PBS television show which produces biographies on the artists, actors and writers of the United States who have left a profound impact on the nation's popular culture. It is produced by WNET in New York City...

 filmed a documentary of Remington's life called Frederic Remington: The Truth of Other Days
Frederic Remington: The Truth of Other Days
Frederic Remington: The Truth of Other Days is a documentary of American Western artist Frederic Remington made for the PBS series American Masters and produced and directed by Tom Neff It was written by Neff and Louise LeQuire...

produced and directed by Tom Neff
Tom Neff
Thomas Linden Neff, known as Tom Neff, is a film executive, director and producer, born in Chicago, Illinois. Currently, he lives in Nashville, Tennessee.-Education:Neff received his Bachelor of Arts from Lawrence University with a major in English...


Remington was portrayed by Nick Chinlund
Nick Chinlund
Zareh Nicholas "Nick" Chinlund is an American actor.-Early life:Chinlund was born in New York City. He attended the Friends Seminary in Lower Manhattan, later moving to Albany, NY in order to participate in Albany High School's varsity basketball program...

 in the TNT miniseries Rough Riders
Rough Riders (film)
Rough Riders is a 1997 three hour television miniseries about future President Theodore Roosevelt and the regiment . The series prominently shows the bravery of the volunteers at the Battle of San Juan Hill, part of the Spanish-American War of 1898. It was released on DVD in 2006...

(1997), which depicts the Spanish-American War, showing Remington's time as a war correspondent and his partnership with William Randolph Hearst
William Randolph Hearst
William Randolph Hearst was an American business magnate and leading newspaper publisher. Hearst entered the publishing business in 1887, after taking control of The San Francisco Examiner from his father...

 (portrayed by George Hamilton
George Hamilton (actor)
George Stevens Hamilton is an American film and television actor.-Early life:Hamilton was the youngest son of bandleader George "Spike" Hamilton and his first wife, Ann Stevens . He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and lived in Blytheville, Arkansas...


WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival's main prize "The Remi Award" is named in Remington's honour.

See also

  • Earl W. Bascom
    Earl W. Bascom
    Earl W. Bascom was an American painter, printmaker, rodeo performer and sculptor, raised in Canada, who portrayed his own experiences cowboying and rodeoing across the American and Canadian West.- Childhood :...

    , distant relative to Remington
  • Arthur Roy Mitchell
    Arthur Roy Mitchell
    Arthur Roy Mitchell was an American artist and historian who was born on his father's homestead west of Trinidad in Las Animas County in southern Colorado....

    , Colorado artist
  • Frederic Remington Art Museum
    Frederic Remington Art Museum
    The Frederic Remington Art Museum is an art museum in Ogdensburg, New York that focuses on the work of Frederic Remington.-History:The building currently housing the museum was built in 1810 by David Parish. Although he only lived in the home until 1816, other members of his family occupied it up...

     in Ogdensburg, New York
  • J. K. Ralston
    J. K. Ralston
    James Kenneth "J.K." Ralston was an American painter of the Old American West whose primary topics were the American West and images of cowboys and American Indians. He also did commercial artwork....

    , western artist
  • Charles M. Russell, western artist
  • Frederic Remington High School
    Frederic Remington High School
    Frederic Remington High School is a rural public secondary school, located between Whitewater and Potwin, and north of the unincorporated community of Brainerd. It is one of three schools operated by Unified School District 206, and is the sole high school in the district...

    , named in his honor

External links

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