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 Frederic Sackrider Remington  (1861 - 1909)

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Lived/Active: New York/Kansas/Connecticut      Known for: western painting and sculpture, illustration

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born at Canton, New York, Frederic Remington became the foremost turn-of -the-century illustrator, painter, and sculptor of western action-packed subjects with cowboys, Indians, horses, soldiers, and other frontier characters. His style was realistic, and much of his work was narrative with strong implication that the West belonged to the white man, but his Indians were portrayed with dignity and nobility.

During his lifetime, Remington created about 25 bronzes with the most famous being "The Bronco Buster", and one of the largest being the cowboy statue for Fairmount Park in Philadelphia. He also did about 3000 paintings, some which he burned towards the end of his life.

Remington was the son of the local newspaper publisher, and in 1878 entered the Yale School of Fine Arts for one year, excelling at football and art. Because of his father's death, he could not afford to return to school, so he traveled West and made numerous sketches, selling one to "Harper's Weekly." He studied for a short time with J. Alden Weir, a founder of American Impressionism, at the Art Students League in New York, but did not stay there for long because he had little patience for formal schooling.

In the next years, he made many trips to the West and Plains States and worked as a cowboy, ranch hand, lumberjack, and gold miner in Apache country in Arizona. He also sent illustrations back to "Outing Magazine," "Harper's Weekly," and "Scribners." Publishers used everything he sent them because his experiences were so fascinating to easterners. He also illustrated articles by Theodore Roosevelt for "Century Magazine" and for Frances Parkman's novel, "Oregon Trail." During the Spanish American War, he was an artist-correspondent in Cuba. Other travels were to North Africa, Mexico, Russia, Germany and England.

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. He also exhibited in New York galleries including the Knoedler Gallery, where he had his last public show in 1926.

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.

His early paintings of the West were much more literal depictions than his romanticized later ones of the disappearing West. In his later years, he preferred to paint nocturnes because it allowed him greater freedom and depth of perspective.

For his bronze sculpture, he used the foundry Roman Bronze Works, the first foundry in the United States to devote itself exclusively to the age-old lost wax method. Foundry owner Ricardo Berteli and Remington worked closely together to explore technical and creative aspects of casting bronze.

Because Remington is so associated with the American West, it may be surprising that he spent time with Augustus Saint-Gaudens and others in the artist colony in Cornish, New Hampshire. He almost bought property there, finding the fellowship of the community very stimulating.

He died in 1909 at Ridgefield, Connecticut from an appendicitis, when he was age forty eight. From 1886 to six months before his death, his home had been in New Rochelle, New York where he had a large studio.

Sources:
Harold and Peggy Samuels, Encyclopedia of the American West
Matthew Baigell, Dictionary of American Art
Peter Falk, Who Was Who in American Art
Alma Gilbert, Director of the Cornish Colony Museum, New Hampshire
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Frederic Sackrider Remington was born on October 4, 1861 in Canton, New York and brought up in that small town in northern New York, the son of a local newspaper publisher. From a very early age he showed artistic talent. In 1872 the family moved to Ogdensburg, New York, where Frederic was enrolled in a military academy at the age of fifteen. In 1878 he convinced his parents to let him take art classes at the newly formed School of Fine Arts at Yale University. He soon became discouraged with the tedious routine of academic art instruction and turned his interest to athletics; a tough fellow, he soon won respect as a boxer and adulation as a star varsity football player.

Remington's father died in 1880; the same year Frederic quit Yale after less than two years. His love of horses drew him westward. Remington had an amazing capacity to make himself at home in whatever group he joined. In the East he was at home in the best clubs, a gourmet who appreciated rich food and elegant conversation. But whenever he crossed the Missouri River, he became a frontiersman. In 1885 he studied briefly at the Art Students League in New York City. He began a career as an illustrator, achieving great fame as a specialist in cavalry life in the West and later in cowboy and Indian themes. Having exhibited paintings since 1887, he was elected an associate member of the National Academy in 1891.

He experienced frontier America from Canada to the Rio Grande; the horses he loved were key figures everywhere he went, depicted in every manner of action. Then Remington discovered that New York editors were hungry for black-and-white pictures to accompany the weekly stories in national magazines. He was a fine sculptor as well as a good writer and artist. He executed all his sculpture in the last ten years of his life. It is tragic that Remington was only forty-eight when he died as a result of uncontrolled obesity. In December of 1909, he died the morning after Christmas from a ruptured appendix.

Written and submitted by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.

Sources:
James A. Michener in Reader's Digest, May 1977
Catalogue of the Timken Art Gallery
Memberships:
National Academy of Design (Association 1891); National Institute of Arts & Letters.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born Canton, NY, Oct. 4, 1861; died Ridgefield, CT., Dec. 25, 1909. Painter, specialized in western scenes. Illustrator. Sculptor. Etcher. Attended Yale University 1878-79. Visited the Montana Territory in 1881. Arrived in Peabody in March 1883 to become a sheep rancher in Butler County near his Yale classmate Bob Camp. In April 1884 Remington sold his ranch and moved to Kansas City to operate first a hardware store and then a saloon. He moved to New York City in 1885 and, although a frequent traveler through the west, never again resided in the west. He attended the Art Students League and began selling illustrations to Harpers Weekly and Century Magazine as well illustrating books. One of these books, Ranch Life and the Hunting- Trail (NY: Century, 1888), was written by Theodore Roosevelt. Remington’s paintings and sculpture of the old west are among the icons of American art and his career is well documented in numerous books.
Source:
AWARDS:
Hallarten Prize & the Clark Prize, National Academy of Design, 1888.

COLLECTIONS:
Buffalo Bill Historical Center; Amon Carter Museum; Thomas Gilcrease Museum; Joslyn Art Museum; Museum of Nebraska Art; Spencer Museum of Art; St. Louis Art Museum; Anschutz Collection; and many more public collections

MEMBERSHIPS:
National Academy of Design (Association 1891); National Institute of Arts & Letters.

SOURCES:
Susan Craig, "Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945)"
Sain, Lydia. Kansas Artists, compiled by Lydia Sain from 1932 to 1948. Typed Manuscript, 1948.; Newlin, Gertrude Dix (Development of Art in Kansas. Typed Manuscript, 1951); Samuels, Peggy. Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1976.; Dawdy, Doris Ostrander. Artists of the American West: A Biographical Dictionary. Chicago: Swallow Press, 1974. American Art Annual. New York: American Federation of Arts, 1898-1947 01, 03, Reinbach, Edna, comp. “Kansas Art and Artists”, in Collections of the Kansas State Historical Society. v. 17, 1928. p. 571-585.; Kanhistique. Ellsworth, KS, v.1 #1 May 1975-. 1975-1982 examined. (Apr. 1976); Kansas History, a Journal of the Central Plains. Topeka: Kansas State Historical Society. V.1 #1, Spring 1978-. Examined 1978-81. (Spring 1979); Fielding, Mantle. Mantle Fielding’s Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors and Engravers, with an Addendum containing Corrections and Additional Material on the Original Entries. Compiled by James F. Carr. New York: James F. Carr Publ., 1965.; Hassrick, Peter H. Frederic Remington: A Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Watercolors, and Drawings. 2v. + disc (Cody, WY: Buffalo Bill Historical Center, 1996); Samuels, Peggy. Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1976., Peggy. Remington: The Complete Prints. (New York: Crown, 1990); Reed, Walt. The Illustrator in America, 1860-2000. New York: Society of Illustrators, 2001.; AskArt, www.askart.com, accessed Dec. 23, 2005
This and over 1,750 other biographies can be found in Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945) compiled by Susan V. Craig, Art & Architecture Librarian at University of Kansas.

Biography from Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery Santa FeTucson:
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. It was 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.

From a very young age he was drawn to the West and enjoying the great outdoors hunting, fishing and hiking. Remington's father expected Frederic to earn a college degree, so in 1878 he enrolled at Yale's School of Fine Arts. His father passed away a year and a half into his studies, and at that time he went to Montana to try out life on a ranch. He only lasted two months before he left there and used a small inheritance to buy a sheep ranch in Kansas. That endeavor lasted only about a year, and Remington married his childhood sweetheart, Eva Adele Caten, in 1884 and moved to Kansas City to invest in a hardware store and a saloon.

Not enjoying the hard life in the West, the Remingtons moved back to Brooklyn, New York in 1885. Frederic studied briefly at the Art Students League, but spent a great deal of his time traveling to Arizona, Texas and New Mexico. He was becoming well known as an illustrator for magazines such as Harpers and Theodore Roosevelt's serialized articles for Century Magazine. 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. In 1888 he won the Hallgarten and Clark award at the National Academy of Design exhibition. The following year he was awarded the silver medal at the Paris International Exposition.

It was during the mid-1890s when Remington began to learn and quickly master the medium of sculpture. His initial attempts were using the sand cast method that was traditional at the time. But after being introduced to the lost wax process all of his subsequent castings were done using that method.

In 1898, Remington interrupted his sculpting to go to Cuba as a war correspondent and illustrator reporting on the Spanish-American War for Harper's and New York Journal. He witnessed the assault on San Juan Hill by American forces led by Theodore Roosevelt and others. This experience caused Remington to become deeply disillusioned by the reality of war and how appalling rather than heroic it was. Upon his return, he retired for a time of healing at an island retreat he owned on the St. Lawrence River. It was here that he did some of his best sculpting work. He became known for not only the detail and dramatic movement in his pieces, but for the life-like portrayal of his subjects.

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. John Ford's film "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" was inspired directly by Remington's work. The "Marlboro Man" in the well-known cigarette ad was one of Remington's illustrations. His legacy is more about a portrayal of the heroic figures who 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.

Bibliography
1. Frederic Remington Art Museum
2. PBS American Masters Series
3. Norton Art Foundation
4. Remington Online Art Museum, by Shannon J. Hatfield
5. Sid Richardson Museum

Biography from Thomas Nygard Gallery:
Frederic Remington was born on October 1, 1861, 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's fondness for horses also materialized at an early age. As a boy, he was an accomplished rider, a skill imparted by his father who had been a cavalry officer during the Civil War.

In 1872, the Remington family moved to Ogdensburg, New York, where young Remington was enrolled in a military academy at the age of fifteen. His fervent desire to become an artist convinced his parents to let him take art classes at Yale University in 1878. After an initial period of enthusiasm, Remington soon became discouraged with the tedious routine of academic art instruction and turned his interest to athletics, becoming the Yale boxing champion and a member of the football team.

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, saloon keepers, 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.

Remington moved to New York City and began working as a freelance illustrator and studying at the Art Student's League. His first accomplishment as a professional artist came in 1882, when one of his sketches was published in the February 25 issue of "Harper's Weekly". He began to get regular commissions and by 1887 was supporting himself well. That year, he produced several important easel works. He exhibited a painting at the American Water Color Society Show and another at the National Academy of Design Exhibition.

The following year, in 1888, he won two prestigious awards at the National Academy: The Hallgarten Prize and the Clark Prize. Remington had finally achieved full success in his field and he was deluged with commissions. 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.

Biography from Nedra Matteucci Galleries:
FREDERIC REMINGTON (1861-1904)

A New Yorker by birth, Frederic Remington's famed career as the quintessential Western artist, was launched by a marriage proposal. The father of the prospective bride refused his daughter's hand to as feckless, improper artist. Remington headed west, partly to forget and partly to show that he was a true artist of worth.

At 21, Remington inherited $9,000 from his father's estate, bought a small ranch in Kansas and with several other men eventually purchased a saloon in Kansas City. Even though he was cheated by his partners and lost considerable money, Remington had indeed been selling some paintings and drawings of his own, and he felt confident of his eventual success to return to New York, there marrying Eva.

However, with his inheritance gone, Remington found it hard to make a living on the sale of his paintings alone and began to illustrate for Outing Magazine, Harper's Weekly, Youth's Companion and Century. The Century articles were written by Theodore Roosevelt, and the collaboration was eventually published in book form. Immensely popular, the book contained ninety-nine Remington drawings and greatly furthered his career.

Remington lived in New York but repeatedly traveled west and was an observer of many historical events such as the battle at Wounded Knee. Not only did Remington record these events with pen, ink and paint, he wrote about them. The artists/journalist became a war correspondent to Cuba in 1898 where he witnessed the capture of San Juan Hill. Remington called himself a historian by virtue of his collected magazine articles, illustrated by himself, and wrote two historical novels, John Ermine of the Yellowstone and The Way of the Indian. He also completed illustrations for his friend Owen Wister's Done in the Open.

In 1909, at the height of his fame, Remington died of appendicitis at the age of forty-eight. His death did not diminish the popularity of his drawings, paintings and bronzes and in the years since, his works have been used to constantly illustrate the history of the American West.

Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, V:
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, 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.

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 a story, elevating it to the status of art. “It is hardly possible to convey in words an accurate idea of the panic and terror spread throughout the country by Apaches on the warpath,” Remington wrote in an unpublished manuscript. “I have been in towns when yellow fever and cholera were first announced and have seen the panic-stricken flight of the people; but have never seen anything so terrify and paralyze people as the near approach of these bloodthirsty outlaws.”

ReSources include: The American West: Legendary Artists of the Frontier, Dr. Rick Stewart, Hawthorne Publishing Company, 1986


Biography from The Coeur d'Alene Art Auction:
Frederic Remington was born in Canton, New York, where his father was a newspaper publisher. As a boy he sketched the horses, Indians, cowboys and soldiers he dreaded about. When he was seventeen, he was one of the first two students to enter the Yale University Art School. In 1880 Remington's father died and the ensuing inheritance prompted him to leave school. He worked briefly at several office jobs, but could not settle down and grew restless and headed west with his easel, paint and brushes to find his "Pot of Gold". He spent time working as a cowboy and sheep rancher, prospecting for gold and fighting as a soldier against the renegade Sioux. He studied and sketched the land around him with almost photographic eyes. His subjects were of prime importance, and his heroes were the everyday people of the frontier. He insisted on realism in every detail. He took a serious interest in art, entering the Art Students League to improve his technique. Success did not come quickly; by the early 1890s his paintings began to win prizes and he became in great demand as a magazine and book illustrator. In 1895 his first sculpture, "Bronco Buster", won instant acclaim. After achieving both wealth and notoriety, Remington moved to a Connecticut farm, where he established a library and art gallery and surrounded himself with his western artifacts and memorabilia. He died suddenly from an attack of appendicitis in Ridgefield, Connecticut, at the age of forty-eight.

Biography from William A. Karges Fine Art - Beverly Hills:
Frederick Remington was born in Canton, New York, in 1861. His formal art instruction was brief. He had one year of study at Yale’s school of art, and brief study with American Impressionist J. Alden Weir at the Art Student League in New York.

Most of Remington’s time was spent out west, painting for exhibitions, and submitting illustrations for easterners hungry for a glimpse of the American West.  Because Remington lived the life he painted, he was an especially interesting figure to the editors who purchased his works.  Once he had achieved a comfortable level of financial success, Remington focused his energies on lost-wax sculptures, further exploring the western theme that brought him fame. 

He died suddenly of appendicitis at his home in Connecticut at the age of 48.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.


Frederic Remington is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
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