19th-century American painter Frederic Remington specialized in depictions of the American West. His mythic images struck a mythic chord, creating the popular image of the West that persists today.
Frederic Remington was born in Canton, New York, on October 4, 1861, to Seth Pierrepont Remington, a Republican newspaper publisher, and Clarissa Bascom Sackrider. He spent a good deal of his childhood hunting and riding, as well as sketching horses and the outdoors. He went to high school at the Highland Military Academy in Worcester, Massachusetts, and later attended the Yale School of Art when his family moved to New York.
Upon his father’s death in 1880, he returned home and began working as a reporter, all the while continuing to sketch in his free time. Two years later, he sold a sketch to Harper’s Weekly, which encouraged him to pursue his dream of a career in the arts.
In 1883, Frederic Remington moved out West, bought some property in Peabody, Kansas, and established a sheep ranch. A year later, Eva Caten finally agreed to marry him. He had been relentless in his pursuit of her hand in marriage. While the artist had a great love for the West, he came to realize that sheep ranching was not for him and gave up his Western residence. The young couple headed for Brooklyn, New York, where his illustrations found a place in the magazines ‘Ranch Life’ and the ‘Hunting Trail’, gaining him notoriety.
Remington 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 works to many of the major magazines including Harper’s Weekly.
In the Mid-1890s, he had become one of the most popular and successful illustrators of his time. He began to focus mainly on painting and sculpting, making frequent trips to the West for inspiration. ‘Self Portrait on a Horse’ (1890) is an example of the vision he had of the West and how it inspired his art. ‘The Bronco Buster’, one of the sculptures created during this time, represents man’s struggle to control nature. Although his illustrations and paintings were based on his own boyish visions of the West, they possessed an authentic sense of place and detail that he drew on from his trips, hence, fusing together imagination and observation.
Remington went to Cuba in 1898 as a war correspondent and illustrator during the Spanish Civil War. A taste of the appalling realities of war disillusioned him greatly. Retiring to an island retreat on the St. Lawrence River allowed him the privacy and ability to paint the themes that made him famous.
In 1909, the day after Christmas, Frederic Remington died after an operation for appendicitis at the age of forty-eight. During a twenty-five year span, he produced more than 3,000 drawings and paintings, 22 bronze sculptures, 2 novels, one of which was adapted into a Broadway play, and over 100 articles and stories.