Frederic Remington 1861 - 1909
- Frederic Remington
- A Halt in the Wilderness [Halt to Warm; Halt of a Cavalry Patrol to Warm]
- signed Frederic Remington (lower right)
- oil on canvas
By descent in the family to the present owner
Collier's Weekly, September 1905, illustrated pp. 14-15
New York Times, February 10, 1906
Peter H. Hassrick and Melissa J. Webster, Frederic Remington: A Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Watercolors and Drawings, vol. II, Cody, Wyoming, 1996, no. 2776, illustrated p. 803, pl. 82
Nancy K. Anderson, Frederic Remington, The Color of Night, Washington, D.C., 2003, p. 118, illustrated pl. 21
Remington's contemplative images of nighttime, in which the earth and sky are illuminated with silver moonlight, accounted for almost half of the artist's finished compositions during the last decade of his life. After 1900, Remington experimented repeatedly with these evocative nocturnes, which were in part a response to the Tonalist movement in late nineteenth-century American art. Art historian and author, Nancy Anderson writes, "During the eight years that remained before his premature death in 1909, Remington explored, with great seriousness, the 'problem' of painting in color. He may have achieved his greatest success in the more than seventy nocturnes he completed during the last years of his life" (Frederic Remington: The Color of Night, 2003, p. 12).
A Halt in the Wilderness displays a marked departure from the starkly lit, highly dramatic scenes executed earlier in Remington's career. The present work depicts a cavalry patrol, their sole captive, and mounts surrounding a fire in the snowy wilderness, bathed in moonlight. Shadowy, mysterious, and full of portent, A Halt in the Wilderness exhibits no obvious narrative. Instead, Remington allows the viewer creative interpretation. As Professor William Sharpe writes, "What's out there? ... is perhaps the fundamental question posed by Frederic Remington's work. To him the meaning of an episode was not inside like a kernel but outside in the unseen" ("What's out There? Frederic Remington's Art of Darkness" in Frederic Remington: The Color of Night, 2003, p. 18). As in a number of the later nocturnes, the artist's mostly monochromatic palette is accentuated by the glowing of the fire, while the moon, although implied rather than depicted, acts as the main light source, casting a diffused silvery light over the scene.
In the last decade of his career, Remington transcended his origins as an illustrator and achieved professional recognition as a painter. According to the art critic Royal Cortissoz, in the last few years of Remington's career, ". . .the mark of the illustrator disappeared.. .and that of the painter took its place." Cortissoz added that, ". . .as though to give his emergence upon a new plane a special character he brought forward a number of night scenes which expressly challenged attention by their originality and freshness" (American Artists, 1923, p. 235). After viewing an exhibition at Knoedler's in 1907, Cortissoz summed up Remington's accomplishments in the following review: "Mr. Remington has painted a number of night scenes and in these he has made a great stride forward. It is not simply that he has changed his key. Study of the moonlights seems to have reacted upon the very grain of his art, so that all along the line, in drawing, in brushwork, in color, the atmosphere, he has achieved greater freedom and breadth" ("Art Exhibitions," New York Tribune, December 4, 1907).