Frederic Remington was born October 4, 1861, in Canton, New York. He was the only child of Seth Pierre Remington and Clara Bascomb Sackrider Remington. In 1878, Frederic attended the Yale College School of the Fine Arts for three semesters. He played football on the Yale team. After Remington’s father died, he left school and started working as a reporter.
In 1881, he traveled west to Montana territory and sold his first sketch of cowboys to the magazine Harper’s Weekly. He went on to make illustrations for many other popular New York magazines. Remington was praised and trusted for the accuracy of his work. Many people assumed that he was a westerner, a soldier or a cowboy. The truth is, he was just fascinated by the West.
Remington took the $9,000 inheritance he received from his father and travelled West again. He bought and worked on a sheep ranch in Peabody, Kansas. On October 1, 1884, he married Eva Adele Caten. The ranch was unsuccessful, and after a few months, Eva returned to her parents’ home. Remington decided to travel to the Southwest, sketching subjects in Arizona and the Indian Territory.
In 1885, Remington moved to New York City to become a magazine illustrator. He reunited with his wife. The following summer Remington returned to the West. Harper’s financed this tripbecause they wanted him to draw a series of illustrations about the Indian Wars. These drawings depict clashes between U.S. troops and Native Americans.
Remington took several other trips out West. While he was there, he listened to the stories and followed the lives of soldiers and cowboys. On his trips to the West, Remington collected items to help him create life-like illustrations, paintings and sculptures. He filled his studio with them to create a western environment. In 1889, Remington followed Milton E. Milner as he searched for a new cattle range in Montana territory. He painted this experience, calling it Prospecting for Cattle Range. This painting features realistic details, tight use of line and articulated shapes.
By the mid-1890s, Remington was one of the most popular and successful illustrators. At this time he started focusing on painting and sculpture. He painted illustrations in black and white, which taught him to use varying degrees of light and darkness. This technique can be seen in paintings such as The Mess Tent at Night.
Remington also created three-dimensional artwork. His bronze sculpture, The Bronco Buster represents a human struggle to control nature. Remington designed his sculptures to depict movement.
The Bronco Buster (1895)
Later in his career, Remington experimented with a lighter color palette. After 1900, he became well known for his tonal paintings of night scenes.
Frederic Remington died on December 26, 1909 from complications following an appendectomy. He was 48 years old. During his life, Remington produced more than 3,000 drawings and paintings, 22 bronze sculptures, two novels and over 100 magazine articles and stories.