The Broncho Buster
1909, cast ca. 1910-1914
Cast by Roman Bronze Works
32 1/8 x 29 3/4 x 19 1/2 in.
No. 5 of an estimated 19 estate casts made during Eva Remington's lifetime. No casts were completed during the artist's lifetime, although one cast was underway just before his death.
signed on the top of the base: Copyright by \ Frederic Remington
Inside the base: N[o]. 5--
On the side of the base: ROMAN BRONZE WORKS[.]N-Y-
Amon G. Carter Collection
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, Amon G. Carter Collection
In November 1909, Remington began this large version of The Broncho Buster, commenting, “It will make your eyes hang out of your shirt, get ready to retire the small one.” The model was completed and shipped within weeks, but Remington died the day after Christmas and never saw the finished work.
Today, the sculpture is a powerful representation of cowboy mystique—the ruggedness and individuality of those legendary figures serving for some people as a symbol of American identity. This perhaps explains why a version resides in the Oval Office and can often be seen on a credenza in the background during televised presidential addresses.
New York artist Frederic Remington gained national fame for creating scenes that memorialized the people and lifestyles of the American West. Per the suggestion of a friend, Remington began to sculpt and produced a small-scale version of The Broncho Buster in 1895. It wasn’t until 1909 when Remington made a large-scale version of it, which is on display at the Carter. The action and details of this piece make it one of the most loved and notable sculptures from that time.
This bronze sculpture, meant to be viewed from all sides, depicts a cowboy on the back of a rearing horse. The slender, bushy-mustached man looks straight ahead as he sits on the saddle. He’s wearing a cowboy hat with the front brim bent back; a long-sleeve collared, button-down shirt; a holster with a gun around his waist; pants covered by chaps; and boots with a tall heel. The rider’s left hand holds onto the reins at the base of the horse’s neck. That same hand holds on to an unraveled lasso, and the long, skinny rope drops down the right side of the horse and hits the ground, making a tiny loop that stands upright. His right arm is pulled up and back out to the side, and his hand is opened wide, palm down. Remington shows movement in the cowboy’s body by adding creases and ruffles across the arms and torso of his shirt. The rider bends forward slightly at the waist and softly bends his knees, balancing himself over the moving steed. His right foot is out of the stirrup and the empty stirrup flies to the side. The cowboy’s left foot is secure in the other stirrup. Under the saddle is a blanket and two half circle bags that rest over the back haunches of the horse. Remington included just as much detail and action for the horse.
The horse is rearing up, bending his hind legs while standing firmly on them. His front legs are parallel to each other, bent, lifted up high, and framing his head that looks to his right. His mouth is partially open, and the bit is visible on either side of his mouth. The horse’s nostrils flare, his ears are pinned back, and his mane stands on end, suggesting the horse is on his way back down from rearing. The back two hooves remain on the ground. The tail wisps off to the same side of the rider’s free arm, separated into four sections of hair, contributing to the sense of movement. The muscles on the horse are intricately articulated, reinforcing the movement even though the action is frozen.
The horse stands on a raised oval base. The top is extremely textured, giving the sense of standing on dirt. The artist carved his signature on the long side of the base in front of the right hind hoof.