Frederic S. Remington (1861–1909)
Riccardo Bertelli
Roman Bronze Works
The Outlaw, 1906
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas
In December 1905 Remington sent a drawing as a special Christmas greeting to Riccardo Bertelli, the owner of Roman Bronze Works. The drawing depicts the artist himself leaning confidently on a sculpting stand, upon which is placed a finished clay model of his latest bronze subject, The Outlaw. The model shows a horse bucking its rear legs high into the air, with only one of its forward legs touching the base. On the left of the drawing, Riccardo Bertelli has thrust his head into the picture, and he appears to have a surprised expression. At the bottom of the drawing, Remington has the following dialogue between the two of them: “R: ’Can you cast him?’ B: ’Do you think I am one of the Wright brothers?’” Such an exchange was probably very common at the foundry, for Remington was continually pushing the bounds of what could be cast; his compositions grew increasingly complex, and his figures seemed to want to fly into space and leave the base behind. In the final bronze version of The Outlaw, as can be seen here in this lifetime cast, both of the horse’s front legs are attached to the base. During Remington’s lifetime, approximately fifteen casts were produced; beyond that, it is estimated that another twenty-five were made. For Remington, the success of this composition depended on the carefully contrived degree of pitch of the horse and rider relative to the base. If the figures were not balanced just beyond the perceived center of gravity, the sculpture would lose the sense of forward movement. This cast displays that aspect of careful positioning that makes the best of these casts seem to move forward into space. The fine detail and beautiful textures create a play of light across the surface of the bronze, further adding to its sense of movement.