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Signaling the Main Command

Signaling the Main Command
signed and dated '·Remington·/85' (lower left)
watercolor on paper
image, 22 1⁄4 x 31 3⁄4 in. (56.5 x 80.6 cm.);
overall, 26 1⁄4 x 36 1⁄4 in. (66.7 x 92.1 cm.)
Executed in 1885.
M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York.
Private collection, Miami, Florida, acquired from the above, 1955.
Christie's, New York, 23 May 2001, lot 83, sold by the above.
Acquired by the late owner from the above.
“Plains Telegraphy,” Harper’s Weekly, July 17, 1886, p. 452, illustrated.
H. McCracken, Frederic Remington: Artist of the Old West, New York, 1947, p. 134.
P.H. Hassrick, M.J. Webster, Frederic Remington: A Catalogue Raisonne of Paintings, Watercolors and Drawings, vol. I, Cody, Wyoming, 1996, p. 42, no. 41, illustrated.
New York, University Club, February-April 1963, no. 8.
Oshkosh, Wisconsin, The Paine Art Center and Arboretum; Minneapolis, Minnesota, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts; Williamstown, Massachusetts, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Frederic Remington: A Retrospective Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture, August 1-December 31, 1967, no. 3, illustrated.
Cody, Wyoming, Whitney Gallery of Western Art, 1974.
Phoenix, Arizona, Phoenix Art Museum; Memphis, Tennessee, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art; Omaha, Nebraska, Joslyn Art Museum, Frederic Remington’s Southwest, January 4-September 6, 1992, no. 50.

Brought to you by

Tylee Abbott
Tylee Abbott Vice President, Head of American Art

Lot Essay

The present work was published as an illustration for an article titled "Plains Telegraphy" in the July 17, 1886 issue of Harper's Weekly. At only 25, Remington was just entering the commercially successful phase of his career, and the present work is typical of the Western military scenes that were to establish the artist’s fame.

The Harpers story reads, "The entire Apache-hunting column is a scouting party. In order to sweep as wide a belt of country as may be, it must send out its feelers right and left, and there are often good reasons why a mere squad should keep within communicating and supporting distance of the main body. There is little danger of its being surprised, but the discovery of a fresh trail or of some other interesting 'sign' may be news which should go to the commander by telegraph, and not by a pony messenger….

If a rider well in the advance suddenly pulls in his horse, all other eyes are quickly upon him. His lifted hand or hands, pointing, swinging, utter plain words. He is part of the 'signal.' He has said, for instance, 'apaches in force, to the right, going southerly.' The whole party is halted, and up goes the long, feed-like lance, with its fluttering, party-colored pennon. The news has gone to the main body; but the nest signal from the man ahead may call from the sargeant an exclamation. 'After us, are they? Let him close up. Steady now. Boys, we must ride for it, or there won't a man of us get in.'" ("Plains Telegraphy,” Harper's Weekly, July 17, 1886, p. 459)

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