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Frederic Remington

Birth place or City of origin: Canon
State of origin: NY
Last known City:
Last known State:
Start/Birth date: 1861
Death/End date: 1909

Frederic Remington created iconic images of the Western frontier composed of Native Americans, cavalrymen and cowboys. Nowhere in his oeuvre is the cowboy more celebrated than in his first bronze subject, The Broncho Buster. Originally conceived in 1895, The Broncho Buster, depicting a cowboy breaking a wild horse, was an immediate success, symbolizing all that was triumphant and heroic of the West.

By the 1890s, Remington was a renowned illustrator, painter and an accomplished writer. Never complacent as an artist, he wanted to expand his repertoire of talent to include something "in the round as well as the flat." In 1894, at the urging of friends and fellow artists, Remington began modeling a rider mounted on a rearing horse. The subject of the cowboy was always a central and important theme to Remington's work. The artist had written in 1895, “that with me, cowboys are what gems and porcelains are to some others." (Cracker Cowboys of Florida, Harper's Monthly, April 1895, p. 329) Remington's keen observations and unabashed love for the cowboy and his way of life found direct expression in many of his published drawings and paintings. He also maintained an extensive collection of photographs that contained related images of rearing horses and cowboys that he drew upon for developing the intricate modeling found in his sculptures. The Broncho Buster, a subject derived from Remington's cache of works devoted to the rearing horse and rider, reflected the artist's attention to detail combined with the ingenious rendering of a specific action, intense movement and sublime balance.

Remington recognized that his legacy as a brilliant artist would be defined by the longevity of his bronze sculptures and in 1895, wrote: "My oils will all get old and watery...my watercolors will fade--but I am to endure in bronze...I am modeling--I find I do well--I am doing a cowboy on a bucking bronco and I am going to rattle down through the ages." (as quoted in P H Hassrick, Frederic Remington: The Masterworks, New York, 1988, p. 182)

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In a career that spanned less than twenty-five years, Remington produced more than 3,000 drawings and paintings, twenty-two bronze sculptures, a novel, a Broadway play, and over one hundred articles and stories. As a boy, he was an accomplished rider, a skill imparted by his father who had been a cavalry officer during the Civil War. It was probably also the influence of his father's newspaper business that taught Remington how to capture a story to illustrate his romantic version of the West and its struggles. His legacy is more about a portrayal of the heroic figures that settled the West and their life-and-death struggles, rather than so much about what he experienced personally on his journeys. He gave Americans stories about what they wanted to see in themselves - independence, bravery and optimism. Even though he only actually lived in the West for only a year, he inspired a love of the West and is reputed to be America's most popular nineteenth century artist. Frederic Remington passed away in 1909 at the age of forty-eight following an emergency appendectomy.

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Zouave was the title given to certain infantry regiments in the French army, normally serving in French North Africa between 1831 and 1962. The name was also adopted during the 19th century by units in other armies especially volunteer regiments raised for service in the American Civil War.

Upon the death of his father in 1880, Remington quit Yale and decided to try to make his living as an artist. He spent five years traveling in the West, during which he decided to commit himself to the artistic representation of the history, people and traditions of the "Old West." Remington befriended anyone who could afford him additional insight into his obsession. He talked to cowboys, saloonkeepers, Indians, soldiers and settlers. He became a close friend of William F Buffalo Bill Cody and was often invited to stay at his famous ranch.

By 1890, his stature and wealth allowed him to buy a mansion in New Rochelle, where he built a large studio and stocked it with his collection of western artifacts. His fame and wealth continued until his death at the age of 48.

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Frederic Remington was born on October 4, 1861 in Canton, New York to a prominent family. He was related to Western portrait artist George Catlin and cowboy sculptor Earl W Bascom. Frederic grew up during the Civil War hearing epics from his father of his life in the cavalry. His early attempts at art were drawing and sketching soldiers in uniform on horseback.

The subject matter was almost exclusively his mythic sketches of the Western frontier, cowboys and the military. He would even self-assign reporting missions to the West, resulting in many articles both written and illustrated by Frederic Remington.

 

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