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  • Frederic Remington
    Oct 4, 1861 - Dec 26, 1909
  • The Fall of the Cowboy - Frederic Sackrider Remington was an American very significant artist, illustrator, sculptor, and writer who specialized in depictions of the Old American West, specifically concentrating on the last quarter of the 19th century American West and images of cowboys, American Indians, and the U.S. Cavalry.
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The Fall of the Cowboy
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  • Frederic Remington
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  • 1895
    Oil on canvas
    63.5 cm (25 in.) x 89.22 cm (35.13 in.)
    Amon Carter Museum, United States.

    As early as the mid-1890s, the cowboy way of life was beginning to come to an end. The expansion of the railroads into cattle country had eliminated the need for the long trail drives to the railheads of Kansas and Missouri. The great expanses of public grazing lands had been opened to homesteaders who had enclosed pastures with barbed-wire fences. After more than a decade of painting the cowboy lifestyle as a symbol of spirited freedom, Frederic Remington began to realize that the West he had idealized in his art was vanishing. Out of this awareness, he produced one of his most memorable paintings, The Fall of the Cowboy.

    At his friend Remington's insistence, writer Owen Wister published an article in Harper's New Monthly Magazine titled "The Evolution of the Cow-Puncher." It was part of a series on "the whole adventure of the West," with Remington as principal illustrator. The Fall of the Cowboy was among several illustrations that eventually accompanied the author's work. Remington had advised Wister to write his piece about the story of the passing of the open-range cowboy. "Don't mistake nice young men who amble around wire fences for 'the wild rider of the Plains,' " Remington warned.

    The bitter winters of 1885 and 1886 had exacted a devastating toll on the northern herds. The advent of barbed wire in 1875 foretold the day when the cowboy would devote his hours not to riding the line and the roundup, but rather to opening and closing gates, digging postholes, and growing and harvesting hay.

    The melancholy associated with the demise of a celebrated American figure is captured here with empathy and reverence. Beneath a sky of gunmetal gray, two cowboys have stopped in a remote, wintry landscape. One of them has dismounted to open the gate so they can pass through.

    Remington—like President Theodore Roosevelt, another great promoter of the West in this period—viewed the cowboy as the last figure of American frontier history: hardy, self-reliant, and tragically doomed to extinction in the wake of American progress. This mythic image was to be immortalized with the publication of Owen Wister's influential novel, The Virginian, in 1902.

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  • from United Kingdom.
  • I ordered the Fall of The Cowboy after seeinjg a print of it while snow mobiling in Utah, what you have done is amazing, I have mounted with a metal frame and will be giving it to my husband for his birthday on 26 May.
    Thank you he will be thrilled.

Other paintings by Frederic Remington:

The Gossips
The Gossips
His First Lesson
His First Lesson
The Moose Hunt
The Moose Hunt
A Breed
A Breed
Frederic Sackrider RemingtonFrederic Sackrider Remington was a very significant artist, skilled as a writer and lauded as an illustrator, painter and sculptor. His subtle and powerful work made him the premier chronicler of the late nineteenth century American West. The son of a newspaper publisher, Remington was born in Canton, New York in 1861. He began sketching as a boy. After attending a Massachusetts military academy from 1876 to 1878, he entered the newly formed Yale University Art School in New Haven, Connecticut. His father's death in 1880 induced him to leave school and briefly take on clerical work in Albany, New York.

During a short journey West in 1881, Remington received a glimpse of the life and land that would influence and inspire the rest of his life. The trip, consisting of sketching, prospecting and cow punching from Montana to Texas, resulted in his first published illustration in Harper's weekly in 1882. In 1883, he bought a sheep ranch in Kansas, which served as a home base for more trips throughout the Southwest, where he sketched horses, cavalrymen, cowboys and Indians. Remington sold the ranch in 1884, and established a studio in Kansas City, Missouri.

Returning to New York City in 1885, Remington quickly became a successful illustrator, his work appearing in many publications. He began writing and illustrating his own books and articles as well, giving Eastern America what became the accepted vision of the American West. Wanting greater acceptance as a fine artist, he studied at the Art Students League in New York City for a few months in 1886. Remington began submitting his paintings to exhibitions, but his illustrations remained the primary source of his remarkable reputation. Remington did start winning prizes for his paintings in the early 1890s. His work consisted of visual narratives of the old West, with landscape secondary to the figure. In 1895, Remington produced his first bronze sculpture: The Bronco Buster (a cast in the Metropolitan Museum of Art), which immediately became popular and was followed by 24 other bronzes. His ability to exhibit a strong sense of life and movement in a three dimensional work was recognized.

After moving to a farm in Connecticut, where he established an art gallery and library surrounded by collected Western memorabilia and artifacts, Remington began to experiment with a kind of impressionism around 1905. Many American artists were attracted to the style during that period, but Remington never really ceased to be a realist.

Remington died in Ridgefield, Connecticut in 1909 after a sudden attack of appendicitis, leaving a legacy of more than 2,750 paintings and drawings and 25 sculptures from which multiple casts were made. In addition, he had written eight books and numerous articles about the American West, and served in the Spanish American War as a war correspondent. He was the most important artist ever to record the vanishing Western frontier.