The ‘American Frontier’ which is popularly dubbed as ‘The Wild West’, has long been romanticized in literature, fine arts and other media’s. Adventurous cowboys, western landscapes, American Indian warriors and similar intriguing subjects have served as inspirations for many Hollywood movies, books and artworks. In the fine arts arena, romanticized paintings of three of the most popular American frontier painters- Frederic Remington, Charles M. Russell and Charles Schreyvogel catered to these tales and fantasies of the old west.
Dash for the Timber by Frederic Remington
Frederic Remington was the most influential artist of them, Charles Russell and Charles Schreyvogel were known as members of the “School of Remington”. Their art-style was realistic with a touch of impressionism, figures were the foremost focus of their paintings, landscape was just used as a supporting element to heighten the ‘Wild West Experience’ and the theme always had a unspoken fictional story.
Smoke of a .45 by Charles Marion Russell
Frederic Remington 1861-1909
Iconic paintings, detailed illustrations and life-like sculptures of Frederic Remington have been used as references for many Hollywood movies and popular books. His action-packed artworks were based on his authentic artifacts collection, personal photographs and notes taken during his visits to the west as artist-correspondent for Harper’s Weekly magazine.
Episode of the Buffalo Gun by Frederic Remington
Fight for the Waterhole by Frederic Remington
Even though the art style followed by Remigton was realism, the technique of mixing the colors was sketchy. For shading, instead of merging tones he used numerous rapid strokes of different colors.
Unlike his other contemporaries, Frederic Remington color palette was often experimental and innovative. The tone of the shades was mostly pastel based on his first-hand observation and notes.
A New Year on the Cimarron by Frederic Remington
On the Southern Plains by Frederic Remington
The Smoke Signal by Frederic Remington
The Outlier by Frederic Remington
Charles Russell 1864-1926
Nicknamed ‘the cowboy artist’, Charles Russell started as a watercolourist, he documented the ranch he worked for in Montana with his artworks. His career as an artist started when he mailed postcard-sized watercolors to the owner of the ranch in response to his query as to how the cattle herd had weathered the winter. Circulated amongst the social circle by the ranch owner the artists artwork received much appreciation thereafter he was flooded with orders and commissions.
The Tenderfoot by Charles Russell
Indian Braves by Charles M. Russell
Charles wife Nancy Russell is often given the credit for his international fame, she organized numerous exhibitions for him throughout the United States and in London, creating an international market for his artworks. Charles used the landscape as a tool to highlight and add depth to the mood of his paintings.
Buffalo Hunt by Charles M. Russell
The Signal Fire by Charles M. Russell
A bad hoss by Charles Russell
Watching the Iron Horse by Charles Russell
Charles Schreyvogel 1861-1912
In comparison to his contemporaries, Charles Schreyvogels’ paintings had more drama and excitement, he mostly captured the violent conflicts of cavalry troops and American Indians. Enamored by a Wild West show called ‘Cody’s Wild West extravaganza’, the self-taught artist decided to theme all his paintings on the frontier and Indian War. He toured Colorado and an Arizona to observe the military life, interview soldiers and sketched the landscapes.
In Hot Pursuit by Charles Schreyvogel
He gained instant fame after he won the Thomas Clarke Prize at the annual exhibition of the National Academy of Design for his painting ‘My Bunkie’ (Shown Below)