Lot 176
  • 176

Frederic Remington 1861-1909

Estimate
600,000 - 800,000 USD
Sold
802,600 USD
bidding is closed

Description

  • Frederic Remington
  • Trooper of the Plains 1868
  • inscribed Copyright by Frederic Remington and 1889-1914 to Colonel Oliver Bridgeman From Squadron A Cavalry N.G. N.Y April 2, 1914 with the Roman Bronze Works N.Y. foundry mark and numbered No. 2 beneath the base
  • bronze, brown patina

Provenance

Squadron A Cavalry, New York (sold: William Doyle Gallery, New York, January 6, 1981)
Acquired by the present owner, 1984

Literature

Bruce Wear, The Bronze World of Frederic Remington, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1966, p. 92, illustration of another example p. 93
Harold McCracken, The Frederic Remington Book: A Pictorial History of the West, Garden City, New York, 1966, illustration of another example fig. 381
Peter Hassrick, Frederic Remington: Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture in the Amon Carter Museum and the Sid W. Richardson Foundation Collections, New York, 1973, no. 92, p. 206, illustration of another example p. 207
Patricia Janis Broder, Bronzes of the American West, New York, 1974, illustration of another example p. 121
Michael Edward Shapiro, Cast and Recast: The Sculpture of Frederic Remington, Washington, D.C., 1981, pp. 115
Michael Edward Shapiro and Peter Hassrick, Frederic Remington: The Masterworks, New York, 1988, pp. 218, 221, 231, illustration of another example p. 230
Michael D. Greenbaum, Icons of the West: Frederic Remington's Sculpture, Ogdensburg, New York, 1996, pp. 147-151, 204, illustrated p. 148, illustrations of other examples pp. 149-151

Catalogue Note

In 1908 Frederic Remington journeyed to Wyoming on what would be his last visit to the West. On his return trip home, he wrote to his wife, Eva, about some sketches he had started for a bronze of a trooper. The finished work was not to be a contemporary soldier, but rather a rugged trooper of 1868. Remington's trooper evokes an idealized era in the post-Civil War years when frequent skirmishes erupted between U.S. troops and Native Americans who struggled to resist the ever-mounting influx of new settlers from the East. The western trooper was usually a tough and weathered horseman, well adjusted to the hardships of life on the frontier. Though his presence was welcomed and reassuring to the pioneers, it was resented and feared by the local Indians. Michael Greenbaum notes that "during a cavalry attack it was standard army procedure for a soldier to ride toward the Indians' pony herd, shooting his gun into the air in an attempt to stampede the livestock away from the camp" (Icons of the West: Frederic Remington's Sculpture, 1996, p. 147). Trooper of the Plains 1868 depicts a determined sergeant, revolver drawn, in full gallop on his sturdy mount, ready to face any awaiting challenge.   

It was Remington's twenty-first sculpture and the last bronze copyrighted by the artist, before his untimely death in December 1909. The copyright record of January 13, 1909 reads: "A U.S. Cavalry soldier, with drawn revolver on a running horse, all feet off the ground and supported by a sage brush." According to Greenbaum, "Probably one or two castings were made during the artist's lifetime, but sales of all statuettes, which were recorded by Roman Bronze Works beginning in 1911, took place after his death. About fifteen castings were produced until 1921 when authorized production ceased" (Icons of the West, 1996, p. 147).

During the 1880s and 1890s, Remington had numerous opportunities to observe American troops on the frontier. In 1886, Harper's Weekly hired him to report on the Indian wars in the Southwest, and over the years Remington made several trips out West to sketch and record the violent encounters between Native Americans and the American army for journals such as Outing Magazine and The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine. During those western visits, Remington established friendships with military officers like Lieutenant Powhatan H. Clarke. Clarke frequently wrote to Remington, offering detailed descriptions of military life in the West that the artist would later use in his art. Greenbaum states that "the soldier's accoutrements and attire, from the black felt cap to the Jefferson boots, were modeled in post-Civil War military fashion" (Icons of the West, 1996, p. 147). Remington's familiarity with life on the frontier, his knowledge of the equipment used by the soldiers, as well as his respect for the period's historic significance, made the trooper a fitting subject choice for an artist eager to celebrate the rugged Western cavalrymen.

A number of the figures in Remington's bronzes have counterparts in his paintings. The mounted military man in Remington's Cutting Out Pony Herds, 1909 echoes the rider in Trooper of the Plains 1868. In both works, the horses are depicted at full-gallop; controlled only by the skill of their riders who grip the reigns in their left hands while holding their readied weapons across their chests. A similarly configured horse and rider appear in profile in The Stampede of 1908. As in Trooper of the Plains 1868, all four legs of The Stampede's horse are shown off the ground in suspended motion. Allen and Marilyn Splete write: "Remington was able to portray the horse and rider in bronze with the same dramatic tension that he achieved in his paintings. Unlike the stiff and formal sculpture of the time, his work has motion and action, which give it a timeless appeal" (Frederic Remington--Selected Letters, 1988, p. 365)

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