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Frederic Remington (American, 1861-1909)
Also known as: Remington, Frederic SackriderBirth Place: Canton (Saint Lawrence county, New York state, United States)
By the time of his death in 1909, Frederic Remington was perhaps the most widely known artist of western subjects in the world. Adept as both a painter and sculptor, Remington created a body of work that in many ways defined the idea of the American West in the popular imagination. His paintings and drawings were seen by thousands of people throughout the world through such popular publications as Harper's Weekly, Scribner's, and Collier's. He was admired by Theodore Roosevelt and writer Owen Wister (author of The Virginian) and illustrated the writings of both men. For much of his artistic career, Remington focused on western archetypes, calling his cowboys, trappers, and soldiers "men with the bark on."
His career as a western artist got off to a rough start. As a boy growing up in upstate New York, Remington dreamed of an adventurous life in the Old West. After spending a year at Yale, where he studied art and starred on the football team, Remington used a small inheritance from his father, to travel to Montana in search of the West of his imagination. Soon after arriving in Montana, he shared a campfire with a veteran freight wagon driver, who told Remington that the West he was in search of was rapidly disappearing. Rather than being discouraged, Remington was inspired to capture the West in pictures as rapidly as possible. That first trip was made in 1881, and by 1886 Remington had his first western image published. By 1890, thanks to extensive travels on assignment for the leading magazines of the day, Remington was established as the country's leading painter of western subjects.
When he first tried his hand at sculpting in 1895, Remington had already gained national prominence as an illustrator and critical acclaim as a painter. Remarkably, he had no prior training or experience in sculpting when he started modeling his first subject of a precarious rider on a bucking horse. The Broncho Buster would come to be recognized as his signature work of art. By rejecting the confines of sand casting and implementing the lost wax method of casting, Remington revolutionized American sculpture and seemingly freed his subjects from the bounds of gravity. He was delighted with the results of his first sculpting effort and wrote to his friend Owen Wister that "my oils will all get old...my watercolors will fade, but I am to endure in bronze."
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