Frederic S. Remington (1861–1909)
Roman Bronze Works
The Cheyenne, 1901
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, Acquisition in memory of C. R. Smith, Trustee, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, 1961-1976
In 1901 Remington wrote his friend the novelist Owen Wister that he was completing the “mud” of an Indian on his pony “burning the air.” The Cheyenne was the sixth of Remington’s bronzes to be cast. In this work, the artist was most interested in conveying the illusion of having all four of the horse’s hooves off the ground. The bronze was a special challenge to the foundry; besides its daring composition, it was the first of Remington’s bronzes to be cast in one piece. As with his other bronzes, Remington worked closely with the foundry artisans to refine the sculptural details. Remington’s spirited bronze The Cheyenne was one of the first subjects produced by Roman Bronze Works using the lost-wax casting process. The foundry’s owner, Riccardo Bertelli, was eager to please Remington as a potential client, and the early casts of the warrior on horseback are among the finest in terms of texture and detail that the foundry ever created for the artist. Remington was particularly anxious for the final bronze to retain a strong sense of motion. In a letter to Bertelli, he provided a sketch of the model with a vertical axis drawn to show how he wanted the buffalo robe to support the figure but to the rear of the center. “I very much want to preserve the effect of the action which would be ruined by bringing it too far forward,” he wrote. To the artist’s relief, Bertelli was able to comply with the request. Remington supervised only twenty casts of this work before he destroyed the mold, and the cast shown here is #20, the last of those casts. The first six of these casts display a beautiful brownish-yellow patina; the remaining ones, including this example, employ a dark greenish-black coloring. In general, the casts made during Remington’s lifetime have the highest degree of finish and surface detail. It is particularly interesting to note the changes that Remington himself made in the work: after cast #6 he moved the shield down to the lower part of the Indian’s back, adding feathers to it. The artist made other changes in some of the details, possibly to simplify the finishing process. Casts made after the artist’s death in December 1909 show far less detail than the lifetime casts.