Frederic Remington (American, 1861-1909) Indians on horseback
Lot 147
Frederic Remington (American, 1861-1909) Indians on horseback sight: 21 x 29in
US$ 100,000 - 150,000
£58,000 - 88,000
Lot Details
Frederic Remington (American, 1861-1909)
Indians on horseback
signed 'Frederic Remington' (lower right) and inscribed 'copyrighted 1897 / Harper Brothers.' (lower left) and further inscribed '"He jump from hees[sic] pony to dis[sic] red horse." / M.S. "The Great Medicine Horse"' (on an old mounting board)
watercolor and ink on paper
sight: 21 x 29in
overall: 32 x 40in

Footnotes

  • LITERATURE:
    Harper's New Monthly Magazine, September 1897, vol. 95, issue no. 568, p. 513.

    Frederic Sackrider Remington was born in Canton, New York in 1861. He had very little formal education. He studied briefly at the Yale School of Art and with American Impressionist J. Alden Weir at the Art Student League in New York. He was the son of a newspaper publisher and it was the influence of his father's business that taught him how to capture a story and to illustrate his romantic version of the West.

    Much of Remington's time was spent out west. He worked as a cowboy, ranch hand, lumberjack, and gold miner in Apache country in Arizona. During this time he painted for exhibitions and submitted illustrations for easterners eager for a glimpse of the American West. Because Remington lived the life he painted, he was an especially desirable contributor to the editors who purchased his works for publications such as Outing Magazine, Scribners and Harper's Weekl.

    Remington was ever-fascinated by the motion of horses and took many photos of them in the newly invented roll film box camera. He painted and sculpted the animals often, frequently at full gallop, but always juxtaposed with human figures, never drawing single horse portraits. We see this fascination paying dividends with the accurate, dynamic depiction of horse and rider at the center of Indians on Horseback. The perspective is a difficult one and Remington portrays it with seeming ease. Even the horses far in the distance receive Remington's careful attention as you can see stragglers accelerating to catch up to the rest of the herd as it moves.

    Indians on Horseback is one of two illustrations Remington created for his story entitled The Great Medicine Horse: An Indian Myth of the Thunder. Published in the September 1897 issue of Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Remington relates the tale of the Absarokee (Crow) Indians in search of horses via the translator Sun Down La Flare. After a very long journey a group of Absarokee rustle a large herd of horses. Through much difficulty and many losses they bring the herd home. At one point the remaining Absarokee are set upon by a group of Sioux warriors and only by capturing the big red horse at the head of the herd are they able to escape. "He jump from hees pony to dees red horse jus' as Sioux was 'bout to run heem down. De big red horse was run – run like hell – ah!" While the Great Medicine Horse is with the tribe the winters are mild, the buffalo are abundant, and the Absarokee "he tac heap scalp – all dese was medicin' horse work." At the end of the tale the Medicine Horse, during a full moon, goes up through the roof of the lodge as a curl of smoke to do battle with the Thunder-Bird. The Medicine Horse tells the Absarokee that he will leave his ghost with them for now and that one day he will return to them only when they return to their old ways.

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