Frederic Remington and the American Old West (Temporis Collection)
Emerson Hough, Frederic Remington
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Frederic Remington (1861-1909) was one of the last American artists to offer his contemporaries a vision of the American Old West, that wild terrain with its immense prairies, herds of bison and the last American Indians. A painter, but above all an illustrator popular in his time, Remington skilfully captivated the public's attention by presenting a realistic view of this primitive way of life on the brink of submitting to invading civilisation. Authentically capturing its roughness, force and also its colours, Remington quickly became the representative of American painting in the eyes of the world. Though he mainly concentrated on the attitudes of his characters and animals and not on his landscapes, his photographic style, with a nearly impressionist touch, renewed a genre and lent an added realism to his subjects. Painter and sculptor, Remington also knew how to sculpturally express the ardour of these strong men and wild animals battling with the evolution of a new continent. The galloping horse, still recognized today as his signature subject, magnificently illustrates the power of freedom emanating from these masterpieces.
advantageous customs of any conquered country — naturally came from those nearest Elizabethan countries which lay abandoned behind them. If the atmosphere of the Elizabethan Age still may be found, let us look to the roistering heroes of a gallant day; for this was ever the atmosphere of the American frontier. To feel again the following breezes of the adventuring ships, or see again, floating high in the cloudless skies, the sails of the Great Armada, was the privilege of Americans for a double
Juan Hanging There Dead!; The Way of the Transgressor), 1891. Oil on canvas, 84.1 x 58.7 cm. The Hogg Brothers Collection, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas. 151 TS 4/15/2009 10:49 11/9/2009 AM Page 152 TS Remington Remington 4C.qxp ENG 1C 09 Nov 2009.qxp 3:44 PM The Cavalry Charge, 1907. Oil on canvas, 76.5 x 129.9 cm. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York. 152 Page 152 TS 4/15/2009 10:49 11/9/2009 AM Page 153 TS Remington Remington 4C.qxp ENG 1C 09 Nov 2009.qxp 3:44 PM
marched all day, and with canteens empty we pulled into Fort Thomas that afternoon. At the fort we enjoyed that hospitality which is a kind of freemasonry among army officers. The colonel made a delicious concoction of I know not what, and provided a hammock in a cool place while we drank it. Lieutenant F got cigars that were past praise, and another officer had provided a bath. Captain B turned himself out of doors to give us quarters, which graciousness we accepted while our consciences
or he might smile and say “Con mucho gusto” as he was handed a few pieces of silver. There were plenty of cows everywhere in the world! Let us, therefore, give the old Spaniard full credit in picturesque romance and in the organised industry of the cow. The westbound thrust which came upon the upper part of the range in the days of more shrewd and exacting business methods was simply the best-known and most published phase of frontier life in the cow country, so it has been accepted as typical.
other. If we care truly to see the cowboy as he was and seek to give him the dignity of a real purpose, we should study him in connection with his surroundings and in relation to his work. Then we shall see him not as a curiosity but as a product — not as an eccentric driver of horned cattle but as a man suited to his times. Large tracts of that domain where once the cowboy reigned supreme have been turned into farms by the irrigator’s ditch or by the dry-farmer’s plan. The farmer in overalls is