Frederic Remington (1861-1909)
Frederic Remington (1861-1909)

In a Canyon of the Coeur D'Alene

Frederic Remington (1861-1909)
In a Canyon of the Coeur D'Alene
signed '-Remington' (lower right)
oil en grisaille on board
24 ½ x 18 ½ in. (62.2 x 47 cm.)
Executed circa 1888.
Kennedy Galleries, Inc., New York, 1977.
Private collection, (probably) acquired from the above
By descent to the present owner.
P.H. Hassrick, M.J. Webster, Frederic Remington: A Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Watercolors and Drawings, vol. I, Cody, Wyoming, 1996, p. 142, no. 234, illustrated.

Lot Essay

A woodcut of Frederic Remington’s In a Canyon of the Coeur D’Alene was used as an illustration in Theodore Roosevelt’s article, “The Ranchman’s Rifle on the Crag and Prairie,” which was published in Century Magazine in June 1888. The painting depicts Roosevelt’s hunting party as they pursue a white antelope-goat in the northern spurs of the Coeur D’Alene mountains, located in northern Idaho and western Montana. Roosevelt, second from the front, confidently sits astride his horse with what is likely a Winchester rifle, his noted preference over the commonly used repeater, resting firmly in his right hand. Roosevelt writes, “We started from one of the most dismal and forlorn of all places, a dead mining town, on the line of the Northern Pacific Railroad. My foreman, Merrifield, was with me, and as a guide I took a tall, lithe, happy-go-lucky mountaineer, who, like so many of the restless frontier race, was born in Missouri…Four solemn ponies and a ridiculous little mule named Walla Walla bore us our belongings…In places the mountain paths were very steep and the ponies could with difficulty scramble along them; and once or twice they got falls that no animals less tough could have survived, Walla Walla being the unfortunate that suffered most.” (“The Ranchman’s Rifle on the Crag and Prairie,” Century Magazine, June 1888, pp. 202, 204) As with all of his most successful illustrative works, Remington's In a Canyon of the Coeur D’Alene not only accurately represents the tense and poised action of the story but also imbeds the scene with details that allow viewers to experience for themselves the uncertainties and excitements of life in the western wilderness.

Remington made his first trip out West in the summer of 1881, traveling through Montana, Wyoming, Kansas, the Dakotas and other Western territories not yet named. "To Frederic Remington, the nineteen-year-old Easterner, the raw and rugged life of the West seemed to be the answer to his restless desire--an engrossing romance, the pages of which he could hardly read and turn fast enough...He brought the artist's observant eye, an insatiable curiosity, a boundless interest in people and places...He sought out the roughest and most exciting parts of the country, and the roughest and most colorful of the people who gave the country its character." (H. McCracken, Frederic Remington: Artist of the Old West, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1947, p. 33)

The following year marked the beginning of Remington's career in illustration with a work published in Harper's Weekly. Reminiscing about the start of his career twenty-five years later, the artist recalled his lucky beginning: "Without knowing exactly how to do it, I began to try to record some facts around me, and the more I looked the more the panorama unfolded." (as quoted in Frederic Remington: Artist of the Old West, p. 34) In a desire to experience Western life firsthand, Remington purchased a sheep ranch near Peabody, Kansas, in 1883. This spurred a move to Kansas City in 1884 with his new bride, Eva Caten. However, the couple returned to New York within a year. Still, Remington's love of the West and curiosity to discover its stories was well established, and he continued to make frequent trips to the South and Northwest for artistic inspiration for years to come. In 1886, Remington's first cover illustration was published in the January 9th issue of Harper's Weekly. With this important publicity of his talents, Remington's illustrations were soon sought after by several New York magazines.

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