• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2058

    Important American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture

    4 December 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 153

    Frederic Remington (1861-1909)

    'The Cheyenne'

    Price Realised  

    Frederic Remington (1861-1909)
    'The Cheyenne'
    inscribed 'Copyright/Frederic Remington' (on the base)--inscribed 'ROMAN BRONZE WORKS, N.Y.' (along the base)--inscribed 'N15.' (beneath the base)
    bronze with brown patina
    22½ in. (57.2 cm.) high


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    Among the most famous of Western bronzes is Frederic Remington's sixth bronze model, The Cheyenne, a masterful example of the artist's skill at capturing the vitality and action of a horse and rider in mid-stride. Always striving to perfect his craft and push the limitations of the bronze medium, in the present work Remington captures an exceptional balance of movement and form that had not been previously seen in any other sculptor's work. Prior to the creation of The Cheyenne, the animal image had been interpreted as a stationary form and Remington's draftsmanship, inventiveness, and quick and adept mastery of the bronze medium established a new standard for capturing dynamic imagery in a three dimensional format.

    From his long apprenticeship and early successes as an illustrator, Remington was a skilled draftsman who relied heavily on the close study of his subjects with numerous sketches and the re-working of his compositions, both on canvas and in bronze. Like his contemporary, Thomas Eakins, Remington was also a close study of the rising popularity of a new medium: photography. "Remington learned much from the work of Eadward Muybridge, a photographer who a decade earlier had captured on film the movements of a number of animals, including the horse. Muybridge had outfitted a camera with a special shutter system to enable the recording of stop-action images. His photographs of a galloping horse were the first published which recorded the animal's mid-stride body leaving the ground. His pioneering work, in addition to furthering development of sophisticated camera lenses and high-speed film, had an impact on Remington who was the first artist to depict a galloping horse with its legs folded underneath. Until that time the animal had been portrayed in the unnatural hobbyhorse pose with all four legs extended outward." (M.D. Greenbaum, Icons of the West: Frederic Remington's Sculpture, Ogdensburg, New York, 1996, p. 8)

    The Cheyenne, Remington's second model depicting an Indian, was one of the first sculptures conceived for casting exclusively at Roman Bronze Works. Completed and copyrighted in 1901, the bronze was cast with the lost-wax technique which allowed the sculptor to model highly textured surfaces. This tour de force of balance and casting with all four of the horse's hooves off the ground reflect the joint artistic and technical efforts on the part of the sculptor and foundrymen. The present model is a marked departure from Remington's prior works and his desire to have all four feet of the horse removed from the base became a test for Roman Bronze Works founder, Riccardo Bertelli. "'I very much want to preserve the effect of the action,' [Remington] penned. Bertelli complied. '[Remington] always wanted to have his horses with all four feet off the ground,' the founder said in an interview, years after The Cheyenne and later bronzes had been cast. The collaboration between the two men on The Cheyenne was their finest. Remington's quest for fluidity and motion and Bertelli's technical skills coalesced in a work that elevated the talents of each. The bronze was Remington's first model to be cast in one piece." (Icons of the West: Frederic Remington's Sculpture, p. 89)

    Nowhere is Remington's aptitude with bronze rendering more notable than in the present work, The Cheyenne, which reveals his un-rivaled knowledge of animal and figural anatomy and musculature as well as a mastery of movement and tension. A feeling of wind moves through the horse's mane and tail, the rider's hair, and even the heavier buffalo blanket hanging to the side. The tension in the horse's neck as it gently leans down and forward emphasizes the speed and stride of the horse. The defiant cry of the rider adds further emotion and tension to the scene, as he leans into the stride of the horse together moving quickly across the viewer's field of vision.

    Provenance

    Private collection.
    [With]James Graham & Sons, New York.
    Robert W. Purcell, New York.
    [With]James Graham & Sons, New York.
    Acquired by the present owner from the above, 1979.


    Pre-Lot Text

    Property of an Important New York Collection


    Literature

    Frederic Remington: A Painter of Modern Life, Brooklyn, New York, 1943, n.p., another example illustrated.
    P. Hassrick, Frederic Remington: Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture in the Amon Carter Museum and the Sid W. Richardson Foundation Collections, New York, 1973, pp. 192-93, another example illustrated.
    M.E. Shapiro, Cast and Recast: The Sculpture of Frederic Remington, exhibition catalogue, Washington, D.C., 1981, pp. 65-66, 74-75, 100, another example illustrated.
    M.E. Shapiro and P. Hassrick, Frederic Remington: The Masterworks, New York, 1988, p. 193, pl. 55, another example illustrated.
    J. Ballinger, Frederic Remington, New York, 1989, p. 105, another example illustrated.
    Gerald Peters Gallery, Frederic Remington, exhibition catalogue, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1991, pp. 15, 75, 77, another example illustrated.
    R. Stewart, Frederic Remington: Masterpieces from the Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, 1992, pp. 34-35, another example illustrated.
    M.D. Greenbaum, Icons of the West: Frederic Remington's Sculpture, Ogdensburg, New York, 1996, pp. 88-93, 185, another example illustrated.
    Gerald Peters Gallery, Remington: The Years of Critical Acclaim, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1998, pp. 98-99, another example illustrated.
    B. Dippie, The Frederic Remington Art Museum Collection, Ogdensburg, New York, 2001, pp. 132-35, another example illustrated.


    Exhibited

    New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, September 1986-April 1987, on loan.
    New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, September 1998-March 1999, on loan.