Remington & Russell, Retold Opens June 6 at Sid Richardson Museum

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Exhibition of 38 oil paintings and watercolors by Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell portrays the untamed 19th century American West during westward expansion. Visitors can compare these iconic Western artists in terms of subject matter, point of view, style and technique.

Through their artistic imagination, Remington and Russell, the preeminent ‘storytellers’ of the American West, retold the vitality, drama and romance of the vanishing Western frontier.

“Remington & Russell, Retold” will open on Saturday, June 6, 2015, at the Sid Richardson Museum and run through Sunday, January 10, 2016.

The exhibition will be the largest display of oil paintings and watercolors by Frederic Remington (1861-1909) and Charles M. Russell (1864-1926) in the permanent collection since 2005, prior to the museum’s renovation in 2006. The museum is considered to have one of the most significant private collections of paintings by these iconic Western artists in the United States, amassed by the legendary Texas oilman and philanthropist, Sid W. Richardson (1891-1959).

The paintings portray unforgettable characters and significant events of 19th century America. Buffalo Bill, native peoples, explorers, mountain men, buffalo hunters and soldiers are participants in such events as the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the Oregon Trail migration and the Indian Wars.

“Frederic Remington and Charles Russell were present at a transformative period of the West, the 1880s and 1890s,” said Mary Burke, the museum’s director. “Through their artistic imagination, these preeminent ‘storytellers’ of the American West retold the vitality, drama and romance of the vanishing Western frontier.”

The 38 oil paintings and watercolors, 20 by Remington and 18 by Russell, invite the visitor to see similarities and differences of the artists in terms of subject matter, point of view, style and technique. Both artists were mainly self-taught, and their interests in subjects that engaged them over their entire careers emerged when both were young boys. Remington took interest in soldiers and military themes—no doubt due to the influence of his father, an officer during the Civil War—and he and Russell chose cowboys and native peoples for their common subjects. Both were writers, illustrators, painters and sculptors, each producing in excess of 3000 works of art.

During their lifetimes, Remington enjoyed a national reputation, while Russell had a loyal regional following. Though both artists are joined in the public’s mind as being responsible for creating America’s vision of the Western frontier, theirs was not a singular vision. Early works by Remington regard the Indian as savage, while Russell’s interpretation of the conflict between American settlers and native peoples favors the Indian perspective.

Unfolding largely in chronological order of the year the paintings were completed, the exhibition demonstrates the work of each artist from early to late career. Remington’s early days as an artist correspondent are represented in two 1886 watercolor field sketches of Buffalo Soldiers, "The Ambushed Picket" and "The Riderless Horse." His career development as an illustrator is demonstrated in two grisailles (black-and-white oils) from 1891 and 1901 and in 10 works from the last five years of his life—five dazzling sun-struck paintings and five nocturnes—representing his late career when he had abandoned his concern with detail and pared down his compositions.

Of note is one of Russell’s first commissioned paintings, "Western Scene" (ca.1885), and four mid-career watercolors (each reproduced in its day in either magazines, calendars or commercial products), among them his 1908 "First Wagon Tracks," last displayed in the museum in 2005. In later works, Russell stayed true to themes he approached at a young age, reusing subjects and successful arrangements of figures, but with more depth and intense colors.

Admission is free to the museum, which is open daily except for major holidays at 309 Main Street in Sundance Square in downtown Fort Worth. For information about tours and programs, go to http://www.sidrichardsonmuseum.org or call 817.332.6554.

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