Lot 158
  • 158

Frederic Remington 1861-1909

Estimate
400,000 - 600,000 USD
Sold
541,000 USD
bidding is closed

Description

  • Frederic Remington
  • The Mountain Man
  • inscribed Copyright by Frederic Remington with the Roman Bronze Works N-Y- foundry mark and numbered N. 21 beneath the base
  • bronze, black patina

Provenance

Mrs. L. Johnson (sold: Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, October 19, 1972, lot 26, illustrated)
J.N. Barfield Galleries, New York (acquired at the above sale)
Hugo Alpers, Cleveland, Ohio
J.N. Bartfield Galleries, New York, 1976
Coe Kerr Gallery, New York, 1977
George Ablah
J.N. Bartfield Galleries, New York
Acquired by the present owner, 1985

Literature

Bruce Wear, The Bronze World of Frederic Remington, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1966, p. 72, illustration of another example p. 73
Harold McCracken, The Frederic Remington Book: A Pictorial History of the West, Garden City, New York, 1966, illustration of another example fig. 370
Peter Hassrick, Frederic Remington: Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture in the Amon Carter Museum and the Sid W. Richardson Foundation Collections, New York, 1973, no. 85, p. 194, illustration of another example p. 195
Patricia Janis Broder, Bronzes of the American West, New York, 1974, illustration of another example p. 125
Michael Edward Shapiro, Cast and Recast: The Sculpture of Frederic Remington, Washington, D.C., 1981, pp. 77-81, 105, illustrations of other examples figs. 33, 69-74
Michael Edward Shapiro and Peter Hassrick, Frederic Remington: The Masterworks, New York, 1988, pp. 210, 211, 214, 231, 267, illustration of another example p. 205
Michael D. Greenbaum, Icons of the West: Frederic Remington's Sculpture, Ogdensburg, New York, 1996, pp. 105-112, 190, illustrations of other examples pp. 106-112

Catalogue Note

Frederic Remington's The Mountain Man captures a moment in which the skill and sheer nerve of the frontiersman defy the hazards of life in the American West. The rider's collected expression belies his precarious descent as horse and rider gingerly negotiate a treacherously steep embankment. Remington made The Mountain Man several inches taller than his other bronzes, using the added height and the narrowness of the base to emphasize the slope's verticality and its inherent dangers.

Remington described the rider in The Mountain Man as an "old Iriquois (sic) trapper who followed the Fur Companies in the Rocky Mountains in the 30 & 40'ties" (Michael D. Greenbaum, Icons of the West: Frederic Remington's Sculpture, 1996, p. 105). Fur trading, one of America's earliest and most profitable industries, flourished from the seventeenth to the early nineteenth centuries. By the time Remington first created his 1903 bronze The Mountain Man, the era of the frontier fur trapper had long disappeared and the mountain men themselves had emerged as romantic western icons. Remington's Indian trapper would have been a lone traveler who for months at a time had to survive in the unforgiving Rocky Mountain terrain. By the mid-1830s, the market for beaver fur had declined precipitously as new fashions in the hat industry replaced fur with silk and beaver became increasingly scarce; the era of the fur trader ended a decade later.

Remington's bronze contains many subtle details related to the world of the trapper. The flintlock rifle was a common item received in trade for furs, though the fur cap, moccasins, and leggings would have all been home made. To help himself render details and figural positions, Remington relied on living models and photographs. The artist's attentive eye is evident in the decoration along the knife sheath, the subtle backward lean of the rider in the saddle, and the fine delineation of the horse's tensed musculature.  

Remington supervised the production of at least fifteen casts before his death. Greenbaum notes that "Unlike Remington's other subjects, many fine posthumous castings of The Mountain Man edition" exist, because "the same skilled artisan at the foundry was probably exclusively assigned to all Mountain Man production. Castings through approximately number 30 are distinguishable by their very fine detailing, seen in the careful placement of the trapper's powder horn in front of and centered at the middle of the ammunition pouch" (Icons of the West, 1996, p. 105). The Corcoran Gallery of Art purchased a cast of The Mountain Man in 1905 and two years later, sculptor Daniel Chester French wrote to Remington informing him that the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Committee on Purchases had voted to buy four of his sculptures including a cast of The Mountain Man (Frederic Remington—Selected Letters, 1988, p. 330). Greenbaum states that "During Remington's lifetime, The Mountain Man was one of his most critically accepted works ... It remains one of his most enduring sculptural works, a striking representational image of the frontier" (Icons of the West, 1996, p. 107).

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