Although Remington spent his childhood growing up in rural Ogdenburg, New York, as a young man he quickly made his way to New York City where he spent most of his career. As he matured, Remington divided his time between the city and the country, which in this case was his childhood home in a region of New York state that’s referred to as the North Country. By 1900, he had purchased an island in the North Country on the St. Lawrence River, an island he called Ingleneuk.
“I am in Chippewa Bay 10 miles below Alexandria Bay. Seven miles wide here and blows like h- every minute. Got a dandy lumbered island – 6 acres- good house- kitchen outside – boat house – two docks and a hospital tent. Its cool here all the while and I work summers. It was a good scheme since no one can live in New [Rochelle] in the summer and work. It is cheaper than travel and anyhow summer is no time to spend on cars…” Frederic Remington to Julian Ralph, Summer 1900
Remington described Ingleneuk in his diary and to friends as his “fortress of rest,” where he would spend his subsequent summers.
The artist loved his summers at Ingleneuk. Remington wrote to his friend John Howard February 1907, “Oh I am itching to get up on that Island. I look forward to it like a school boy. I want to get out on those rocks by my studio in a bath robe in the early morning when the birds are singing and the sun a shining and hop in among the bass. When I die my Heaven is going to be something like that. Every fellows imagination taxes up a Heaven to suit his tastes and I’de be mighty good and play this earthly game according to the rules if I could get a thousand eons of something just like that.”
Our current exhibit, Another Frontier: Frederic Remington’s East, features several paintings depicting parts of his island, like his studio and boat house.
Remington requested his island handyman Pete Smith to paint the boat house “pea-green – sure enough spring foliage – greenery-yellery you know.” And the artist had his friend John Howard secure the paint. “D- you we will see how much an artist you are. I dont want any Paris green poison color such as you had on your house but the real touch of the April showers – now do you understand?”
What was it like with Remington on the island? In the October 1907 issue of Pearson’s Magazine, reporter Perriton Maxwell describes the scene:
“It is given to few men to live Crusoe-like on an island all their own; but Remington besides possessing his own island has augmented the boon with a substantial cottage, studio and outbuildings and lives part from the herding crowd like a feudal lord of old. You cannot possibly disturb him at his work; you could not even located this ‘Ingleneuk’ unless piloted to it. There are only five acres of it, but it is an impregnable stronghold and is, as the artist himself describes it, ‘the finest place on earth…’ Here Remington works all summer… I asked him for a photograph of the house at ‘Ingleneuk.’ ‘Bless your soul,’ he replied, ‘it couldn’t be photographed at any angle; it is solidly screen from view on all sides by the densest growth of trees along the St. Lawrence.’”
The house fell to fire in later years but the studio, now a cottage, still stands.