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01DSC 0503Frederic Remington Art Museum, 303 Washington Street, Ogdensburg, NY

301 Webster Avenue, New Rochelle, NY to 303 Washington Street, Ogdensburg, NY is a journey of some 380 miles, not enough to be insurmountable, but reason not to attempt often. It represents the distance from Frederic Remington’s original studio location in New Rochelle to the ultimate location of his estate and eventually a remarkable art museum, situated right on the Canadian border. It also represents the same distance this writer had to travel to make this long overdue trip north to that museum.

02new rochelle DSC 0484Remington Studio, 301 Webster Avenue, New Rochelle, NY circa 1900

 03new rochelle exterior 1908 DSC 0400bFrederic Remington, Endion, 1908 (Remington's Studio in New Rochelle)

Remington did not mean to retire in New Rochelle indeed his last letters to friends recounted his hope at being bought out by the NY Westchester Boston railroad then under construction which represented a financial lifeline to him as his lucrative illustration contract with Colliers Magazine threatened to expire. Expire it did, and so too did Remington by late 1909 in his home in rural Ridgefield CT. With his passing his widow Eva was at a loss of what to do until she sold the place in Connecticut and moved up north to Ogdensburg where she lived out her last few years until 1918 when she bequeathed the artist’s estate to the Ogdensburg Library, the vast majority of which was conceived and executed in the artists New Rochelle studio.

04Interior Remington studio NR Lyell carr DSC 0478Lyell Carr, Interior Remington Studio, New Rochelle

The estate load of Indian curios, books and canvases gets pushed over the top with the artist's bronzes, making this museum the foremost collection of Remington sculpture. A few are lifetime casts, with the others being cast in the window of time between 1909 and 1915, after which Eva requested that Roman bronze works destroy the molds. Whether they did so per her wishes is another story as Remington’s work remains one of the most popular in the world, and knock offs exist in plenty. A fascinating thing about bronzes is even if the mold comes from an original owing to the nature of the process, say somebody cast a copy of a 22-1/2 tall example, the copy will be that when hot but when cooled it will shrink an inch, about 5% making the copies smaller. That is why dimensions and weight are critical, the original if it was 22-1/2 tall cold, would have been 23-1/2 inches tall when hot or first poured.

In any case the museum has in the main gallery a display of almost all of the artists bronzes as cast under Frederic or Eva Remington’s supervision by Bonnard and then Roman Bronze Works. A few are often on loan to major institutions around the country with the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Museum in Cody, Wyoming being the most frequent recipient of such loans.

05curios DSC 0294Remington Guns and Indian Curios loaned from the Buffalo Bill Center

06broncobuster 19 large 1909 DSC 0290Frederic Remington, The Bronco Buster, 1909, Cast number 19, Roman Bonze Works, 32-1/2 inches tall 

Upon entry from the period Parish house to the museum wing one is confront by an oversized Broncobuster, 32-1/2 inches in height. This scaling up of the artists most popular cast was a project he undertook in 1909, when he revisited the smaller cast then dialed up, unsatisfied with it, he started from scratch, eliminating the horse whip and instead of beating the horse into behaving the cowboy is throwing his right hand out to balance himself atop his wild mount, his played fingers echoing the horses pawing hoofs. When Remington created the first Bronco Buster in 1895 he proclaimed he would endure in bronze. The 1909 enlargement self consciously punctuated that assertion. Horse and man battle one another for mastery, together they achieved immortality.

In the corridor en route to the main gallery are paintings and effects which hearken back to the artists studio, including Tiffany glass, painting by other artists such as Willard Metcalf, Robert Reid and Anna Richards Brewster.

Once on the main gallery, the combined effect of sculpture and paintings by the artist are almost overwhelming. Staying on point first with the sculpture, they are:

07 a broncobuster 23 DSC 0457Frederic Remington, The Bronco Buster, number 23, copyright October 1, 1895, cast by Henry-Bonnard, this shows the differences compared to the larger one with a whip in the cowboys hand, 24 inches tall, 51 pounds

08broncobuster 23 DSC 0379Frederic Remington, The Bronco Buster, 23 flip side, Cast by Henry Bonnard

09cheyenne 02 DSC 0301Frederic Remington, The Cheyenne, Cast number 2, 1901, Roman Bronze Works, shield on brave's back, 20-3/4 inches tall, 42 pounds

10cheyenne 12 DSC 0306Frederic Remington, The Cheyenne, Cast number 12, 1901, Roman Bronze Works, shield trailing, spear in a slightly different position, 21 inches tall

11mountain man 54 DSC 0330Frederic Remington, The Mountain Man, copyright July 10, 1903, Cast number 54 in 1918 by Roman Bronze Works, 28 inches tall

12 coming thru rye 15 DSC 0389Frederic Remington, Coming through the Rye, 1902. Cast number 15, a variation of the example that sold for $11 million at Christies three years ago. In the past this sculpture has been loaned to various institutions including the White House. Dimensions are unique, 28 by 28 by 19 inches, it weighs 200 pounds

13 outlaw 1906 38 DSC 0468Frederic Remington, The Outlaw, Copyright May 3, 1906, cast number 38 in 1917 by Roman Bronze Works, 23-3/4 inches tall

14 polo 1904 02 DSC 0314Frederic Remington, Polo, 1904, a rare composition of which only three were ever cast by Roman Bronze Works. Evidently the market at the time preferred Remington’s western subject matter. 21-3/4 by 19-3/4 inches in size

15 rattlesnake 1905 14 DSC 0320Frederic Remington, The Rattlesnake, Copyright January 18, 1905, Cast number 14 by Roman Bronze Works, 20-1/8 inches tall

16 rattlesnake 100 DSC 0321Frederic Remington, The Rattlesnake, cast number 100 by Roman Bronze works, this shows the altered shape and position of the Snake. One dealer remarked often the snakes get knocked off in transit so replacement rattlers must be made

17 scalp 14 1898 DSC 0354Frederic Remington, The Scalp, number 14, first cast in 1898 by Bonnard, this example cast in 1916 by Roman Bronze Works, 23 inches tall

18 trooper 15 1909 DSC 0440Frederic Remington, Trooper of the Plains, copyright January 13, 1909, Number 15 by Roman Bronze Works, cast in December 1918 for the estate, 25-1/3 inches tall

19 stampede 03 1910 DSC 0460Frederic Remington, The Stampede, copyright April 13, 1910, cast number 3 by Roman Bronze Works, 22 inches tall by 46 inches wide

Paintings:

20 san juan hill 1898 DSC 0471Frederic Remington, The Charge of the Rough Riders, Battle of San Juan Hill, 1898, 36 by 60 inches, oil on canvas, Gift of the Remington Estate

One of a series of works he painted depicting Teddy Roosevelt’s famous charge up the Hill, other example at Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT. It more than helped Remington’s reputation when this unit presented to its’ Colonel (and future President) a cast of Remington’s Bronco Buster (Bonnard #23) now at the Theodore Roosevelt National Historic Site at Sagamore Hill, Oyster Bay, NY.

21 old time prairie fight 20200730 142016Frederic Remington, Old Time Plains Fight 1904, 27 by 40 inches, oil on canvas, Gift of the Remington Estate

Men at Bay, caught in the Open, a desperate stand, what ever it may be called Remington made this a defining theme. He was mostly interested in pioneers caught in the open as symbols of progress with a price to be paid. Civilization to be established when taking a bloody stand. Remington would have felt quite at home in the summer of 2020.

22 Evening in the desert navajos 1906 DSC 0359Frederic Remington, Evening in the Desert, Navajos, 1906, copyright 1906, 20 by 26 inches, oil on canvas, Gift of the Remington Estate

Originally Remington dismissed Pueblo Indians as too tame, here he paints the Indians in the transition from the glare of harsh day towards that of the twililight. The soft shimmering effect owes a debt to the Impressionist technique as employed by his close friend Childe Hassam.

23 sun dance 1909 DSC 0464Frederic Remington, The Sun Dance, 1909, 27 by 40 inches, oil on canvas, Gift of the Remington Estate

Based upon a scene the artist and his friends may have observed at a Blackfoot Reservation in Alberta, Canada, Remington felt these actions confirmed his belief in the impassable gulf between savage and civilized man. In the last year of his life he took almost perverse pleasure in painting an utterly unsaleable work, “I’ll never sell it, it will give everyone horrors.” The horrors are explicit, one brave is suspended by skewers, others droop in an effort to pull free. The difficulties the artist encountered cause the composition to be more daring than unified, tough to hold together. Remington proved to be right, the painting failed to sell at his Knoedler exhibition in the fateful December of 1909.

24 the Outlier 1909Frederic Remington, The Outlier, 1909, 30 by 27 inches, oil on canvas, Gift of the Remington Estate

A preliminary version of the celebrated oil of the same name now in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum, here the Indian seems larger about the chest as he eclipses the light of the rising moon. The finished version has more of a silvery blue tone to it.

25 last march 20200731 134859Frederic Remington, The Last March, 1906, 22 by 30 inches, oil on canvas, Gift of the Remington Estate

A riderless horse plodding across a wintry landscape, almost too exhausted to contemplate his unwanted escorts, this nocturne in greens, creams and dark browns, was meant to reminds us of Custer and the debacle of the Battle of the Big Horn. The wolfish foes here appears in literal form, while the horse recalls the fate of Captain Myles Keogh charger, a horse named Commanche was the celebrated sole survivor of that last stand.

26 End of the Day 1904 DSC 0331Frederic Remington, End of the Day, 1904, 26 by 40 inches, oil on canvas, Gift of the Remington Estate

This painting of two exhausted horses in a stable yard presumes the hard life and harder journies, however here at days end the light in the distance presumes a warm reception in a well lit cabin with a roaring fire.

27 cigarette 1909 27x30 DSC 0387 Frederic Remington, The Cigarette, 1909, 27 by 30 inches, oil on canvas, Gift of the Remington Estate

Eva Remington described this as, “the last painting done by my late husband, Frederic Remington,” when she bequeathed it in her will to what would become the Frederic Remington Art Museum. This Whistlerian nocturne depicts four men relaxing by a small campfire, two cigarettes visible, with one exhaling. The seated figure with his back to the viewer blocks most of the campfire from sight, the moonlight is paramount, the fire secondary.

The museum is open again, face masks required for now. If you have questions, the staff are very helpful.

May 15 through October 15: Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 1 to 5 p.m.
October 16 through May 14: Wednesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 1 to 5 p.m.
Closed major holidays (New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day)

Frederic Remington Art Museum
303 Washington Street
Ogdensburg, NY 13669
(315)393-2425
https://fredericremington.org/

105B57DE 2C70 4334 93E9 EECE42CED773 

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About the Author

Robert Alexander Boyle

Robert Alexander Boyle

 Alexander Boyle is a graduate of Trinity College, Hartford, CT where he majored in History. Prior to graduation he co-authored the seminal book Acid Rain in 1983. Alex has worked for the Metropo...