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The Rattlesnake

The Rattlesnake
inscribed 'Copyright by/Frederic Remington' (on the base)—inscribed 'ROMAN BRONZE WORKS NY' (along the base)—inscribed 'No 63' (under the base)
bronze with black patina
24 in. (60.9 cm.) high
Modeled in 1908; cast in 1918.
Private collection, Washington, D.C.
By descent to the late owner.
H. McCracken, Frederic Remington: Artist of the Old West, New York, 1947, n.p., pl. 47, another example illustrated.
The Paine Art Center and Arboretum, Frederic Remington: A Retrospective Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture, exhibition catalogue, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, 1967, n.p., no. 52, another example illustrated.
P.H. Hassrick, Frederic Remington: Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture in the Amon Carter Museum and the Sid W. Richardson Foundation Collections, New York, 1973, pp. 200-01, another example illustrated.
Denver Art Museum, Frederic Remington: The Late Years, exhibition catalogue, Denver, Colorado, 1981, p. 61, another example illustrated.
M.E. Shapiro, Cast and Recast: The Sculpture of Frederic Remington, exhibition catalogue, Washington, D.C., 1981, pp. 54, 111, another example illustrated.
M.E. Shapiro, P.H. Hassrick, Frederic Remington: The Masterworks, New York, 1988, pp. 212-13, pls. 59-60, another example illustrated.
Gerald Peters Gallery, Frederic Remington, exhibition catalogue, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1991, pp. 16, 43, 45, another example illustrated.
M.D. Greenbaum, Icons of the West: Frederic Remington's Sculpture, Ogdensburg, New York, 1996, pp. 123-28, 197, another example illustrated.
Gerald Peters Gallery, Remington: The Years of Critical Acclaim, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1998, pp. 110-11, another example illustrated.
B. Dippie, The Frederic Remington Art Museum Collection, Ogdensburg, New York, 2001, pp. 198-201, another example illustrated.
Washington, D.C., Department of State, Diplomatic Reception Rooms, 1969, on loan.
Washington, D.C., Corcoran Gallery of Art, 1972, on loan.
Washington, D.C., The White House, 1980, on loan.

Brought to you by

Tylee Abbott
Tylee Abbott Vice President, Head of American Art

Lot Essay

Modeled in 1908 and cast by 1918, the present cast is number 63 of Frederic Remington’s larger sized version of The Rattlesnake. 11 castings were produced of the smaller, approximately 21 inch model before the artist enlarged the sculpture in 1908. The two sizes were cast in an uninterrupted sequence, making cast number 12 the first of the larger scale. While approximately the first 20 were produced during the artist’s lifetime, Roman Bronze Works ledgers indicate that the present cast was produced in 1918. Because of its popularity, approximately 100 casts were produced in total and it was later recast by authority of the Remington Art Memorial. Michael Greenbaum notes that "the rearing bronc and rider, posed masterfully in a spiraling sweep of motion, became one of Remington's most popular works. The artist's 'marvelous knowledge of anatomy, action and expression' were strikingly infused in the bronze's unfolding drama. Shortly after it was completed, Collier's further called it 'the work of a master's hand.'" (Icons of the West: Frederic Remington's Sculpture, Ogdensburg, New York, 1996, p. 123)

The artist felt this larger reworking was a significant improvement over the earlier model of 1905, as he also enhanced the sculpture’s drama with more pronounced curves accommodating the unbridled movement of the startled horse. In keeping with his earlier subjects that captured critical moments of action such as The Broncho Buster and The Mountain Man, the high drama of The Rattlesnake further mythologized the West by conveying an exhilarating sense of danger synonymous with the ‘Wild West.’ Peter Hassrick writes, “The Rattlesnake (sometimes referred to as The Snake in the Path) is Remington’s most graceful, sculptural rendition of the bucking horse in motion. The powerful thrust of the frightened horse and the desperate counterbalancing of the rider are expressed with a vigorous sweep and flow that make this bronze both eloquent and powerful. All movement and attention focus on a central point. All lines within the swirling configuration are directed toward one thing, the inconspicuous but deadly rattler in the foreground.” (Frederic Remington: Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture in the Amon Carter Museum and The Sid W. Richardson Foundation Collections, New York, 1973, p. 200)

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