February 17th, 2003
Frederic Remington
About Frederic Remington

With his dynamic representations of cowboys and cavalrymen, bronco busters and braves, 19th-century artist Frederic Remington created a mythic image of the American West that continues to inspire America today. His technical ability to reproduce the physical beauty of the Western landscape made him a sought-after illustrator, but it was his insight into the heroic nature of American settlers that made him great. This painter, sculptor, author, and illustrator, who was so often identified with the American West, surprisingly spent most of his life in the East. More than anything, in fact, it was Remington’s connection with the eastern fantasy of the West, and not a true knowledge of its history and people, that his admirers responded to.

Born in Canton, New York, in 1861 Remington briefly attended the Yale School of Art and the Art Students League of New York before heeding the call to “Go West.” As a young man, he traveled widely throughout the country, spending most of his time sketching the people and places in the new American frontier. In 1886 he established himself as an illustrator of Western themes, and sold his work to many of the major magazines of the time including, HARPER’S WEEKLY. While most of his best known work was in illustration, he was also a fine painter, capturing on his canvases the sweeping vistas, heroic figures, and moments of danger and conflict that came to define the archetypal romance of the West. Whether portraying a Crow brave facing death at the hands of his enemies in “Ridden Down” or cowboys eluding Indian pursuers in “A Dash for the Timber,” Remington returned time and again to his signature theme: the life and death struggles of the individual against overwhelming forces.

In the mid-1890s, Remington turned his talent to sculpture and quickly mastered the medium. In bronzes such as “The Bronco Buster” and “The Cheyenne,” he gave a new dimension to his subjects, charging them with such detail, movement, and energy they seemed ready to leap to life. Remington briefly interrupted his work with Western themes in 1898 when he went to Cuba as a war correspondent and illustrator during the Spanish Civil War. He was deeply disillusioned by the realities of war, finding it not heroic, but appalling. Retiring to an island retreat on the St. Lawrence River, he continued to perfect his craft, creating much of his most famous work. In 1908, Remington made his last trip West, and died soon after of appendicitis at the age of forty-eight.

Over the course of his career, Frederic Remington produced more than three thousand drawings and paintings, twenty-two bronze sculptures, a novel, a Broadway play, and over one hundred articles and stories. With its dramatic subjects and striking realism, Remington’s artwork fired the American imagination, and his vision of the West was adopted by the nation. As the end of the 19th century brought the closing of the frontier, Remington immortalized the Western experience as one of independence, individualism, and stoic heroism. It was this optimistic vision that had encouraged the settling of the West, and was, during Remington’s time, the way Americans wanted to see themselves. He struck a mythic chord in defining our national character that still echoes today in popular culture. From the “Marlboro Man” in the cigarette advertisements to the epic Westerns of John Ford (whose film SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON was directly inspired by Remington’s work), images we continue to perceive as uniquely American reflect the enduring legacy of Frederic Remington.

  • CODMW2 Beast

    NO there is a big random information bar in the middle of the article and takes away vital information

  • Jerry Odell

    I have 4 ” signed” copies of Frederic Remington’s paintings ,size about 18″ x 12″., copywrited 1906 by Collier & Sons. I am courious as to their value. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

  • Richard Sutor, Ph.D.

    I was fortunate enough to see this program when it originally aired. This was during the days of the VCR and I taped the program which I still have in my collection. I would really like to own a DVD copy of it as this is one of the finest biographical programs ever produced about this artist. Several of the major movie studios are now offering to create DVDs on demand (i.e. Warner Bros. Archival Series) so collectors will be able to purchase titles that might not warrant a typical DVD release. Please consider providing this kind of distribution of your programs. My wife and I frequently pledge to public television especially when there are DVD premiums included. We would be just as willing to purchase American Masters DVDs if the full catalog was made available.

  • Jan Wright

    I have a picture , coby right 1906…..soldiers and indians………what is the value? Frederic Remington

  • Lisa Stockstill

    I have a painting, I am hoping it is an original of Frederick Remingtons “Smoke Signal”. It was handed down to me from my mother. She received it from her long time boss with Lomas and Nettleton. Her boss purchased it for his office. He was the CEO of Lomas and Nettleton.

    I would like to get it appraised. How and where can I do this?

  • timothy whetstone

    I have a painting by Remington also and i live in Orange County California, It is also Smoke Signals, We recieved ours from a friend. It was a rolled up canvas. Where can we get it appraised, and what is the cost?

  • Miguel camarena

    I have an autographed whiskey bottle that is empty it has the cowboy painting on it . Its from year 1902 I wanted to know whay its worth?

  • tom swank

    How and who gave names to remingtons paintings. I recently purchased a lithograph titled “Scalp Ceremony”, and I have seen many of the same picture called “Victory Dance”. Can anyone explain the different names as neither one describes the scene. This is the only Remington that I have seen with different names. My lithograph has cards on the back with various question as to what the Indiana are doing. It is numbered 138. It has “victory Dance” maked out and penciled in “Scalp Ceremony”.
    In answer to some of the above questions, I would contact the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa Oklahoma..

  • Darla

    I have a bronze statue “Coming Through The Rye”. # 36 under it , Fredrick Remmington on front of the base, it weighs no more than 60lbs. Is it an original ?

  • Chris Calkins

    “Victory Dance” has no dogs in picture…”Ceremony Of The Scalps” has 3 dogs running in front of the horses….can google either and see pics…other than the dogs…pictures seem to be the same

  • Polly

    We have a painting of Smoke Signal and would like to find out if it’s an original. We would appreciate any advice you can provide us with. Thank you so much!

  • Carol Burton

    i have inherited a framed painting of Smoke Signal, I can find no date but 07-6237 is written on the frame. Should I have this piece evaluated?

  • R. Lee

    We have a good worn copy of Frederic Remington’s DOWN IN THE OPEN (1902) How much is it wortth

  • Jimmie Davis

    “Dash for the Timbers” is a favorite painting, now prominently displayed at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth.

    It seems that I recall this painting at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, OK, in 1956. Can anyone help?

  • Derek Dewar

    I was at an Estate sale in Parker Colorado years ago, and acquired a Frederic Remington Plate. SouthWestern of course-The Fight For the Waterhole. Its on Gorham China. It’s an America 200th Birthday Plate, and on back it says from the original painting in The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Texas. Any knowledge to a value or info that I could find a source please? Thanks

Inside This Episode

  • About Frederic Remington

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