Frederic Remington created iconic images of the Western frontier composed of Native Americans, cavalrymen and cowboys. Nowhere in his oeuvre is the cowboy more celebrated than in his first bronze subject, The Broncho Buster. Originally conceived in 1895, The Broncho Buster, depicting a cowboy breaking a wild horse, was an immediate success, symbolizing all that was triumphant and heroic of the West.
By the 1890s, Remington was a renowned illustrator, painter and an accomplished writer. Never complacent as an artist, he wanted to expand his repertoire of talent to include something "in the round as well as the flat." In 1894, at the urging of friends and fellow artists, Remington began modeling a rider mounted on a rearing horse. The subject of the cowboy was always a central and important theme to Remington's work. The artist had written in 1895 that "with me, cowboys are what gems and porcelains are to some others." ("Cracker Cowboys of Florida", Harper's Monthly, April 1895, p. 329) Remington's keen observations and unabashed love for the cowboy and his way of life found direct expression in many of his published drawings and paintings. He also maintained an extensive collection of photographs that contained related images of rearing horses and cowboys that he drew upon for developing the intricate modeling found in his sculptures. The Bronco Buster, a subject derived from Remington's cache of works devoted to the rearing horse and rider, reflected the artist's attention to detail combined with the ingenious rendering of a specific action, intense movement and sublime balance.
Remington recognized that his legacy as a brilliant artist would be defined by the longevity of his bronze sculptures and in 1895, wrote: "My oils will all get old and watery...my watercolors will fade--but I am to endure in bronze...I am modeling--I find I do well--I am doing a cowboy on a bucking bronco and I am going to rattle down through the ages." (as quoted in P.H. Hassrick, Frederic Remington: The Masterworks, New York, 1988, p. 182)