Trouble on the Range

Russell’s When Cowboys Get in Trouble shows a scene familiar to many cowboys. Two of the horses are rearing and trying to buck their riders so they can flee from the mad cow. The saliva flying from the cow’s mouth reveals its frustration, and you can sense the horses’ fear in their widened eyes! In the middle of all the confusion, the cowboy on the gray horse frantically tries to pull his gun out without tangling his hand in the rope. Will he get to the gun before it’s too late?

Charles M. Russell, When Cowboys Get in Trouble (The Mad Cow), 1899, Oil on canvas, 24 x 36 inches

Charles M. Russell, When Cowboys Get in Trouble (The Mad Cow), 1899, Oil on canvas, 24 x 36 inches

Charlie Russell spent part of his early life on the range as a night herder, watching over the cattle while the other cowboys slept. Although he had not been a skilled cowpuncher, Russell admired the top hands he knew. His firsthand experiences allowed the “cowboy artist” to convey the emotional and intense action in his paintings. Although cattle grazing in a field may look slow and tame, “some of them were wilder than any other animal that eats grass,” as one cowboy put it.

Although this painting features three individual cowboys, these men were part of a much larger cattle industry. After the end of the Civil War, dusty cattle drives like this one journeyed through the American West, with trails to places as distant as California, Montana, and Kansas. While in Texas, cowboys frequently stopped in Fort Worth, one of the towns along the Chisholm Trail. Here, they could enjoy the comforts of civilization before setting out again to face the dangers of cattle driving.

Notice the brand “N Bar N” on the cow’s side. The N Bar N Ranch was established in 1885 by two brothers, William and Frederick Niedringhaus, who bought land on the open ranges of Montana. That following winter was bitterly cold. Dubbed “The Big Die Out,” the season took a toll on many ranchers, including the Niedringhaus brothers, who lost 40,000 head of cattle! However, the brothers eventually expanded their cattle industry, and in 1889, the N Bar N Ranch leased additional territory in the Texas Panhandle at what was known as the White Deer Lands Ranch.

Ranch headquarters of White Deer Lands, 1888, Courtesy White Deer Land Museum, Pampa, Texas

Ranch headquarters of White Deer Lands, 1888, Courtesy White Deer Land Museum, Pampa, Texas

 

Ranch Cowboys of N-N at White Deer, c. 1889-1893, Courtesy White Deer Land Museum, Pampa, Texas

Ranch Cowboys of N-N at White Deer, c. 1889-1893, Courtesy White Deer Land Museum, Pampa, Texas

Harry Longabaugh, aka the “Sundance Kid,” once worked for the N-N, joining as a cowhand at the age of 19 for a drive to Montana. Afterwards, Sundance joined the VVV Ranch, from whom he stole a horse and was put in jail in Sundance, Wyoming (though he later escaped). He rejoined the N-N in 1892, working for the ranch until his criminal identity was discovered. In talking about his time with the N-N, Longabaugh said, “I have always worked for an honest living; was employed last summer by one of the best outfits in Montana and don’t think they can say aught against me.”

In addition to the “Sundance Kid,” the N-N ranch also briefly employed Charlie Russell. The cowboy artist worked as a horse wrangler on the Montana ranch periodically between 1890 and 1893. It is believed that the Niedringhaus brothers gave the artist his first largest commission, consisting of more than 15 paintings. This generous patronage allowed Russell to resign from his job as a wrangler and devote his time to his art.

His experience on the range resulted in several canvases dedicated to the subject matter. Russell painted many variations of cowboys in turmoil, including another work in the museum’s collection, Cowpunching Sometimes Spells Trouble. As in When Cowboys Get in Trouble, the situation for the fallen cowboy appears dire. In this battle of man versus animal, who will be triumphant?

Charles M. Russell, Cowpunching Sometimes Spells Trouble, 1889, Oil on canvas, 26 x 41 inches

Charles M. Russell, Cowpunching Sometimes Spells Trouble, 1889, Oil on canvas, 26 x 41 inches

Travel by Night

On a starry night, a stagecoach pulled by six horses travels on a moonlit path through a mountainous range when the horses get spooked. What has terrified the horses? The artist, Frederic Remington, does not tell us, but instead implies that there is something beyond the painting’s frame. The title, A Taint on the Wind, suggests that the horses smell traces of a foul odor in the breeze, causing them to pull of the reins.

Frederic Remington, A Taint On the Wind, 1906, Oil on canvas, 27 1/8 x 40 inches

Frederic Remington, A Taint On the Wind, 1906, Oil on canvas, 27 1/8 x 40 inches

While stagecoach travel was a popular mode of transportation in the 19th century, stagecoaches did not frequently pass each other as do cars on a highway today. Before cars and planes were part of our everyday life, a trip on a stagecoach was an adventurous and challenging way to travel – at an average rate of only 5 miles per hour. Between 1852 and 1918, organizations such as the Wells Fargo & Company specialized in hauling mail, money and other valuables across the expansive Western terrain. Government legislation established stagecoach routes, including the Butterfield Line, which traversed south through Texas, from Sherman to El Paso, stopping about every 30 miles to refresh the horses. Stagecoaches, like the one pictured in A Taint on the Wind, first arrived in Fort Worth in 1856.

An original Wells Fargo stagecoach from the 1860s is on public display in the Wells Fargo Tower lobby in downtown Fort Worth.

An original Wells Fargo stagecoach from the 1860s is on public display in the Wells Fargo Tower lobby in downtown Fort Worth.

As a reflection of an earlier era, Remington completed A Taint on the Wind in 1906, when the world of stagecoach travel was actually in decline. In fact, as early as May 10, 1869, the east and west coasts were united by the transcontinental railroad in Promontory Point, Utah. By the turn of the century, a limited number of automobiles were produced, marking the beginning of the end of the horse-drawn coaches.

A Taint on the Wind exemplifies the artist’s nocturnes, a series of paintings completed during his later years that depicted night scenes. Notice the predominant green colors. Remington was influenced by the American Tonalists, artists who explored the range of possibility in a single color. In 1899, Remington viewed an influential exhibition featuring the work of Charles Rollo Peters, a tonalist painter who specialized in nocturnes. New developments in the paint colors of transparent green and lead zinc white enabled Remington to successfully render colors of the night.

Charles Rollo Peters (American, 1862–1928), San Fernando Mission, n.d. 24 x 16 inches. Crocker Art Museum, gift of William C. Wright, conserved with funds provided by the Historical Collections Council of California Art, 1962.23

Charles Rollo Peters (American, 1862–1928), San Fernando Mission, n.d. 24 x 16 inches. Crocker Art Museum, gift of William C. Wright, conserved with funds provided by the Historical Collections Council of California Art, 1962.23

Remington had success with an earlier version of a coach at night in the Amon Carter’s The Old Stage Coach of the Plains, 1901. When placed together, the two paintings provide a comparative study of the artist’s development as a painter. Remington once said that a canvas “should glow and quiver” with light. To represent light sources in his composition, Remington contrasts the colors of the night sky with dots of yellow to indicate twinkling stars. Likewise, two heavily applied daubs of yellow paint indicate lanterns swinging off the stagecoach.

Frederic Remington, The Old Stage Coach of the Plains, 1901, Oil on canvas, 40 ¼ x 27 ¼ inches. Courtesy Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas

Frederic Remington, The Old Stage Coach of the Plains, 1901, Oil on canvas, 40 ¼ x 27 ¼ inches. Courtesy Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas

Included in a 1906 one-man exhibition, the second of Remington’s career, A Taint on the Wind was well-received, with acclamation from noted figures like the American Impressionist Childe Hassam. After having attended Remington’s show, Hassam wrote to the artist, “I think they are all the best things that I’ve seen of yours – for sure! You are sure to have lots of success with them too – Nobody else can do them.” Hassam admits, “I don’t remember titles, but I was interested in the coach coming down the hill.” The painting sustained its popularity when included in an exhibition two years later at the Union League Club. Remington saw it there and recorded the visit in his diary, “Lunched at Players and…[went] to Union League show of picture[s] where found my Stage Coach in place of honor and with all the crowd in front of it. It is a dandy.”

Happy Birthday, Gilbert Gaul!

Today marks William Gilbert Gaul’s birthday (1855-1919).

Like another artist represented in the museum’s collection – Peter Moran – Gaul served as a special agent in 1890 for the eleventh census, focusing on American Indians in the United States. In particular, the artist observed the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Reservations in North Dakota.

The census of 1890 was the first to use automated processing methods, which reduced the amount of time involved in charting the results, from eight years for the 1880 census, down to one year for the 1890 census. Out of a population of over sixty million residents, the census revealed that about 250,000 American Indians were living in the United States, a number that was quickly diminishing. The decline of this native population garnered national attention, with the designation of special agents assigned to the Indian portion of the eleventh census. As one of those special agents, Gilbert Gaul, along with other artists, documented the tribes and the people he encountered, capturing his observations in both photographs and paintings.

William Gilbert Gaul, Sioux and Wife, Semi-civilized, 1890. Report on the Indians Taxed and Not Taxed in the United States (except Alaska) at the Eleventh Census, 1890. Department of the Interior, Census Office. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1894.

William Gilbert Gaul, Sioux and Wife, Semi-civilized, 1890. Report on the Indians Taxed and Not Taxed in the United States (except Alaska) at the Eleventh Census, 1890. Department of the Interior, Census Office. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1894.

William Gilbert Gaul, Sitting Bull, 1890. Report on the Indians Taxed and Not Taxed in the United States (except Alaska) at the Eleventh Census, 1890. Department of the Interior, Census Office. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1894.

William Gilbert Gaul, Sitting Bull, 1890. Report on the Indians Taxed and Not Taxed in the United States (except Alaska) at the Eleventh Census, 1890. Department of the Interior, Census Office. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1894.

During his visit, Gaul painted from life a portrait of Sitting Bull, completed just months before the chieftain’s death.

William Gilbert Gaul, Sioux Camp, 1890. Report on the Indians Taxed and Not Taxed in the United States (except Alaska) at the Eleventh Census, 1890. Department of the Interior, Census Office. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1894.

William Gilbert Gaul, Sioux Camp, 1890. Report on the Indians Taxed and Not Taxed in the United States (except Alaska) at the Eleventh Census, 1890. Department of the Interior, Census Office. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1894.

What the artist witnessed was a changing culture. Gaul notes in his report that:

The day of buffalo robes and buckskins is passing away. With the Sioux breechcloths are no more. The Indian is no longer a gaily bedecked individual. Most of his furs and feathers have disappeared simultaneously with the deerskin. When he lost his picturesque buckskins he had to make his leggings of army blankets, red and blue.

Recording exactly what he saw, as demonstrated in the artist’s painting, The Pow-Wow, Gaul portrays the transition these tribes were undergoing. Rather than perpetuate a romanticized myth, the artist conveys the realities of reservation life, as these buffalo-hunting warriors of yesteryear have become dependent on government rations. Tipis, once made of hide, were now constructed with canvas or muslin. The painting shows the growing infiltration of Western society – the wagon, coffee pot, and kettle – as Native American traditions were gradually becoming relics of the past.

William Gilbert Gaul, The Pow-Wow, c.1890, oil on canvas, 18 1/8 x 24 1/8 inches

William Gilbert Gaul, The Pow-Wow, c.1890, oil on canvas, 18 1/8 x 24 1/8 inches

Madonnas of the Prairie

Upon special occasions, the Sid Richardson loans works from the collection to other institutions. This spring, Charlie Russell’s Three Generations is taking a road trip up to Canyon, Texas to be included in the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum’s exhibition – Madonnas of the Prairie: Depictions of Women in the American West.

Charles M. Russell, Three Generations, 1897, Oil on canvas, 17 1/8 x 24 1/4 inches

Charles M. Russell, Three Generations, 1897, Oil on canvas, 17 1/8 x 24 1/4 inches

Organized by Michael Grauer, Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs & Curator of Art and Western Heritage, the exhibition highlights the representation of women in the American West. Grauer notes:

In the mid-nineteenth century many artists depicted women as victims, passive observers, or merely passengers in the settlement of the American West. Some artists chose to portray Western women in the guise of a “Madonna” figure, based on Renaissance and Pre-Raphaelite paintings of the Virgin Mary. Conversely, Western artists such as Russell portrayed American Indian women more honestly, revealing the harshness of their lives of unceasing toil. Others described women in the West as beautiful objects to be admired, with no true role to play except to stand in the doorway or by the corral gate watching their men ride away. Wild West shows in the 1880s turned this view on its ear by including women trick riders and shootists and promoted these women using painted posters.

By the turn of the 20th century, and especially due to the groundswell of Western fiction, women began to be depicted in much more active roles: plowing fields, picking cotton, riding bucking horses, herding cattle, holding outlaws at bay, and even dragging the wounded to safety under fire, all while also taking care of the children and home.  Simultaneously, advertisers and commercial artists invented the “cow-boy girl,” a stereotypical depiction of a “rough and ready” outdoorsy female—replete with sidearm—to sell male-oriented products, ammunition, tobacco products, and coffee, for example. The “cow-boy girl” eventually evolved into Western pin-up girls during the 1950s, when television Westerns dominated the small screen. During the ‘teens, women competed in all rodeo events and were usually the stars of early rodeo through the 1920s. In the 1920s the cult of the “Pioneer Mother” resulted in an international competition for a heroic bronze installed at Ponca City, Oklahoma. During the Depression and the subsequent “official” New Deal-inspired/encouraged Regionalism, Western artists—including painters, sculptors, and photographers–depicted the nobility and steadfastness of farm women in particular.

Russell’s Three Generations will be installed in a section devoted to the severity of Western life along with paintings by Ivan Albright—whose “obsessively detailed painting style put on canvas the crushing impact of drudgery and advancing age”–and W. H. D. Koerner, where concerns with maintaining fashionable dress and soft skin were abandoned by necessity.

To prepare the painting for the long journey, it must be carefully packaged and crated, which requires a detail-orientated team. Displays Fine Art measured and adjusted the crate’s padding to perfectly fit the dimensions of the painting. After wrapping the painting in a protective layer and ensuring the security of the painting’s position, they bolted the crate and loaded it into the van. packaging Three Gen collageLoading Three Gen collage

Madonnas of the Prairie will be on display at PPHM from April 12 through August 30, 2014. Not able to make a road trip up to Canyon? The Sid Richardson’s current exhibition, Western Treasures, includes representations of women of the West. In Russell’s Seeking New Hunting Grounds and Bringing Up the Trail , the artist celebrates the role of women in Native American cultures, as discussed previously on the blog.

Happy Birthday, Charlie!

“I have hade several birthdays myself some it’s a wonder I lived through but they say joy never kills an I Guess this is true caus Iv swollowed enough joy to drowned a cow on sevral occasions.” – CM Russell to Paris Gibson, June 29, 1916

Today marks Charles Russell’s birthday. By the time Russell died in 1926, he had established a career as an artist of the American West, leaving a lasting legacy in painting, watercolor, and bronze. In addition, Russell was a devoted author of correspondence, producing more than 500 letters, most of which were illustrated. Because expressing himself through writing was a challenge (the rules of spelling, punctuation, and grammar were not the artist’s forte), he resorted to pictures to convey his sentiments, as seen in the Sid Richardson Museum’s Maney Snows Have Fallen. . .

Charles M. Russell, Maney Snows Have Fallen. . .(Letter from Ah-Wa-Cous (Charles Russell) to Short Bull), c. 1909 – 1910, Watercolor, pen & ink on paper, 8 x 10 inches

Charles M. Russell, Maney Snows Have Fallen. . .(Letter from Ah-Wa-Cous (Charles Russell) to Short Bull), c. 1909 – 1910, Watercolor, pen & ink on paper, 8 x 10 inches

Russell writes:

Many snows have fallen since the Blackfeet and Sioux smoked, and the grass has grown long in the trail between their fires. But if Short Bull comes to the lodge of the Antelope the pipe will be lit and robes spread for him. The Antelope has spoken.

Russell signs the letter with his Blackfoot name “Ah-Wa-Cous,” which translates to Antelope. Earlier in his career, in 1887-1888, it is believed Russell spent time near Alberta, Canada living among the Blood Indians, a subgroup of the Blackfeet. When Charlie had visited, he was still working as a cowboy, and as such was wearing wool trousers that had been patched or reinforced with light-colored buckskin. These reinforced pants were popular in the early days and gave the rider a good grip on their saddle, eliminating the need for chaps. The shape, color, and location of the buckskin on Charlie’s backside reminded the American Indians of the antelope, thus the name Ah Wa Cous.

Charles Marion Russell (1864-1926), untitled sketch, n.d., graphite (C.M. Russell Museum, gift of Richard Flood II)

Charles Marion Russell (1864-1926), untitled sketch, n.d., graphite (C.M. Russell Museum, gift of Richard Flood II)

Written with great imagination, the letter demonstrates the artist’s sense of humor and his love for the American Indian culture. Reserved only for a special few among his friends, Russell would sometimes portray himself as a Plains Indian and his recipient – likely an Easterner – another Native tribe. In this case, the artist has depicted himself and his wife as Blackfeet, extending the welcoming pipe to two Sioux visitors, or “Short Bull.” The Sioux and Blackfeet were often enemies on the American frontier. Smoking the peace pipe, a sacred tradition for Plains Indians, was commonly used to confirm treaties and agreements.

Charles M. Russell, When Blackfeet and Sioux Meet, 1908, Oil on canvas, 20 1/2 x 29 7/8 inches

Charles M. Russell, When Blackfeet and Sioux Meet, 1908, Oil on canvas, 20 1/2 x 29 7/8 inches

The identity of “Short Bull” is unknown. A possible correspondent could have been Jim Gabriel, a performer with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, with whom Russell was acquainted. Gabriel also spent time during the Sioux wars as a courier for General Nelson Miles.

Animals in Art

In our children’s programs, so often we study the People of the West: cowboys, American Indians, soldiers, pioneers, explorers, etc. This year, our children’s spring break workshops focus on the animals featured in our collection, allowing the students to think about the wild life that lived in the West and consider how important each animal was to the people living in that region.diorama sketching

Man’s relationship with animals is a universal theme that knows no time boundaries. Children today can relate their own experiences with animals to those who lived in the old West, placing the 19th Century into a context not so far from their own lives. Our programs always aim to balance fun, education, and creativity. The subject of animals is a great way to achieve that mission.Ginger in Gallery

During this two-day workshop, students connect with the collection through scavenger hunts, sketching sessions in the galleries, and docent guided tours of selected artworks. The students transfer their studies and knowledge to the studio, where they have an opportunity to work with 2-D and 3-D art forms to create their own animal-themed artworks. Sketching, painting, constructing, and sculpting are all part of the program, providing something for everyone to enjoy!sketching in galleries 2painting in studiopaper animalssculpture animals 2IMG_2648

Happy Birthday, Peter Moran!

Today is Peter Moran’s birthday. While his brother, Thomas Moran, has long been recognized as one of the premier painters of the American landscape, Peter Moran has received less attention, partly due to the lack of primary source material available. Like his brother, Peter was drawn to the West and traveled to that region on many sketching trips, resulting in paintings like Indian Encampment, in the museum’s collection.

Peter Moran, Indian Encampment, c. 1880-1881, Oil on panel, 12 7/8 x 31 inches

Peter Moran, Indian Encampment, c. 1880-1881, Oil on panel, 12 7/8 x 31 inches

Overtime, Peter Moran garnered a reputation as an accomplished etcher of animals. In particular, cattle were omnipresent in his work, a motif familiar to those of us here in Cowtown. During the late nineteenth century, images of cows resonated with an American audience who recognized that the traditional way of life these domestic cattle signified was rapidly vanishing. Working in a nation transformed by industrialization, Moran’s works evoked nostalgia among his buyers who would reserve these etchings for the parlors of their urban homes.

Peter Moran (American, born England, 1841-1914) Spring, 1875 Etching Plate: 91 x 142 mm (3 9/16 x 5 9/16 in.) The Baltimore Museum of Art: Garrett Collection, BMA 1946.112.12814 Photography By: Mitro Hood

Peter Moran (American, born England, 1841-1914), Spring, 1875, Etching, Plate: 91 x 142 mm (3 9/16 x 5 9/16 in.), The Baltimore Museum of Art: Garrett Collection, BMA 1946.112.12814, Photography By: Mitro Hood

Sid Richardson also witnessed the decline of another American landscape, that of the Western frontier developed by the cattle drives and ranches whose empire rested on the rugged Texas Longhorn. Starting as early as the 1870s, ranchers were importing Longhorns from the British Isles, producing much heavier cross bred cattle. By the 1920s, the remaining Texas Longhorns were facing extinction as many were slaughtered during an effort to eliminate “tick fever.” Sid’s friends J. Frank Dobie, University of Texas professor and folklorist, and Graves Peeler, a renowned Texas Ranger, sought Mr. Richardson’s financial assistance in saving this dying breed. Later, Sid began a breeding program on his San Jose Island in 1940, first with Brahman and Shorthorn cattle, and then with Santa Gertrudis bulls. Together, their efforts helped ensure the survival of the Texas Longhorn.

Sid Richardson with bull Moneymaker on San Jose Island.

Sid Richardson with bull Moneymaker on San Jose Island.

The Art of Frames

When you look at a painting, what do you notice? Subject matter? The artist’s application of paint? How about the frame? A frame can have a significant impact on our perception of a work of art. While protecting the painting, frames also serve an aesthetic and symbolic function.

During the time Sid Richardson began collecting art of the American West, French 18th-century Louis XIV-style frames were widely used. These ornate, gilded frames were a way of glorifying the paintings, conveying prestige and wealth simultaneously. Whether or not the frame was appropriate for the period or style of art wasn’t often a driving factor.French Frame Collage

With education and advances in science came a desire for historical accuracy in framing. Scholars like Rick Stewart began researching what an original Remington or Russell frame looked like. He found that most of their original frames tended to be somewhat simple and not overly decorative.Period Frames Collage

Suddenly, viewers began to see art of the American West in a new light – and frame. What was once a purely decorative decision gradually shifted towards a consideration to preserve the integrity of the art. Now, museums like the Sid Richardson use that knowledge and research of what is historically correct to inform their framing selections, transforming each painting.SRM Wayne Reynolds toning frame

As master gilder and frame conservator at Lowy Frame and Restoration Co. in New York, R. Wayne Reynolds helped the Sid Richardson Museum to replace the once-popular, elaborate frames with carefully selected and hand-crafted period frames, breathing new life into the collection. Join us for a Lecture Friday, March 7 as Mr. Reynolds shares his craft and teaches the age-old practice of gilding with a live demonstration. Mr. Reynolds will return Saturday, March 8 for Coffee & Collecting, leading a tour through the museum’s galleries with a focus on the history and power of frames. Both programs are free! Registration required.

Happy Birthday, Peter Hurd!

Today marks the birthday of Peter Hurd, born in 1904. A native of New Mexico, Hurd became a member of the famous Wyeth family after marrying the daughter of renowned illustrator N. C. Wyeth. Earning the distinction as one of the great painters of the Southwest, the artist was known for his work in the meticulous medium of egg tempera.

Hurd was acquainted with Sid Richardson before beginning work on his portrait. In Sid, Peter found a colorful and amusing old friend. Although the portrait was executed in Palm Springs, CA, the painting’s background depicts Richardson’s ranch in San Jose Island. Located off the coast of Rockport, TX, Sid bought the ranch in 1936 where the oilman and philanthropist raised Santa Gertrudis cattle. The museum’s portrait was made the year before Sid Richardson died in 1959.

Peter Hurd, Portrait of Sid Richardson, 1958, Oil on panel, 32 x 48 inches

Peter Hurd, Portrait of Sid Richardson, 1958, Oil on panel, 32 x 48 inches

Hurd had depicted Richardson’s likeness four years earlier, in 1954, for a mural at what was then Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University). The 1,300 square foot fresco mural depicts the history of Lubbock and the South Plains on the walls of what was then The Museum (now Holden Hall). Each panel includes figures of actual individuals to represent various professions typical of the pioneers who helped settle and build the region. Sid Richardson was chosen to represent the oil industry.Tech Mural of SR

Sid Richardson posing for Peter Hurd’s Mural of the Oil Industry at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX. Courtesy Fort Worth Star-Telegram Photography Collections

Sid Richardson posing for Peter Hurd’s Mural of the Oil Industry at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX. Courtesy Fort Worth Star-Telegram Photography Collections

Art in Motion

Today we highlight a work by New Jersey artist Charles Schreyvogel. As noted on our blog, Schreyvogel gained national attention after a much publicized controversy between the artist and Frederic Remington. Best known for his depictions of horse soldiers of the Indian Wars, Schreyvogel’s Attack on the Herd is a unique composition in that it portrays a cowboy protagonist rather than a cavalryman. The striking canvas engages the viewer, inciting visual curiosity as the exciting spectacle of frontier conflict unfolds.

Charles Schreyvogel, Attack on the Herd (Close Call), c. 1907, Oil on canvas, 26 1/8 x 34 1/4 inches

Charles Schreyvogel, Attack on the Herd (Close Call), c. 1907, Oil on canvas, 26 1/8 x 34 1/4 inches

 The frantic movements of the horses in the foreground heighten much of this theatrical display. Schreyvogel paid particular attention to the horses in all his paintings. During an 1893 sojourn to the West, the artist made several sketches of cavalry horses and Indian ponies, which he used back in his Hoboken studio to mold clay models from which to paint.

In addition to sketches, Schreyvogel liked photography and used it for his studies. Familiar with Eadweard Muybridge’s famous motion experiments of the 1880s, Schreyvogel often left his studio to conduct his own investigations of movement. To capture the various positions and expressions of the horse and rider, the artist relied on photography to collect images of his mounted cowboy friends as they galloped about. Encapsulating these dynamic details gives paintings such as Attack on the Herd an added charge and immediacy.

Eadweard Muybridge, The Gallop, 1887, Collotype, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas

Eadweard Muybridge, “The Gallop,” 1887, Collotype, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas

Want to discover more insights about this painting? Join us for our upcoming Tea & Talk, Wednesday, February 19 from 2-3pm.