About the Work of Art:

Frederic Remington (1861–1909)
The Cheyenne, 1901
Bronze, Roman Bronze Works cast #6, cast 1904
Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas
1997.140

 

Frederic Remington (1861–1909), The Cheyenne, 1901, Bronze, Roman Bronze Works, cast #6, cast 1904, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, 1997.140

 

 

 

 

The Cheyenne is a masterpiece of movement in bronze and was described by Remington as an “Indian and pony . . . burning the air.” Remington knew horse locomotion in detail, as he had spent countless hours studying in the field. Although he saw the high-speed, stop-action photographs of Eadweard Muybridge, he maintained that his artistic interpretation went beyond what the camera could capture, because, in practice, he combined a number of “instants” in a horse’s motion to make his horses seem to move through space. In this sculpture all four legs of the horse are shown in the tucked position of a full gallop. Remington observed that a horse at full gallop has all feet off the ground at one point during each stride. He also used “flying” horses to great effect in his drawings and paintings. The Amon Carter Museum’s A Dash for the Timber, 1889, is a good example.

The Cheyenne was the first Remington sculpture to be cast in one piece and the first real test for Riccardo Bertelli and the artisans at the Brooklyn-based Roman Bronze Works. Bertelli had argued for the superiority of detailing that was possible using the lost-wax process of casting, over a process Remington had used earlier at another foundry. Remington supervised only twenty casts of The Cheyenne before he destroyed the mold, saying that it had lost all its detail. Only the first six casts display a brownish-yellow patina, as compared with the dark greenish black used on the later examples.

In the lost-wax process, Remington was free to make changes in the composition of The Cheyenne. After cast #8, he made one major change: the warrior’s shield was moved from its position high on his back to a point much lower. The artist also added feathers to the shield, earrings to the warrior, and turned his head more to the left.

At the turn of the nineteenth century, the sculpture market began to demand fewer monumental public commissions and more in small-scale works intended for private homes and businesses. The market for Western sculpture, Remington’s included, received a tremendous boost during the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, held in St. Louis in 1904. This World's Fair, which more than twenty million visitors attended during its eight-month run, focused on the theme of America’s westward expansion. Images of Native Americans, as symbols of the “lost” wildness of the American West, were prevalent.

Remington chose the subject of the Native American for many of his paintings, illustrations, and sculptures. He maintained that the mind of an Indian was unfathomable, yet he tried to understand it. He was openly sympathetic to the plight of the Indian in facing the encroachments of white civilization. In 1905 Remington published a novel that some critics of the day called among the best ever written by a white man about the Indian. The Way of the Indian chronicled the life of a Cheyenne warrior from his early days as a headstrong young man to his years as a struggling—and ultimately tragic—leader of beleaguered people.

 

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