Whether through canoeing, hiking, or camping, Frederic Remington was a man who loved the outdoors. The artist once wrote a friend, “if I had money enough I would live in a bark camp the year round.” The artworks on display in our current exhibit, Another Frontier: Frederic Remington’s East, depict landscapes with which the artist was familiar and personally enjoyed, from forested fields to choppy river waters. Thus the theme for this year’s Summer Camp @ The Sid: The Great Outdoors.
During Summer Camp, our junior campers explored the many
facets of our collection and special exhibition: looking for all of the
wildlife in the various landscapes represented in our paintings, how the colors
of landscapes affect our mood, taking a ride through the water scenes on
display, and more. Each day includes a sketchbook activity, time “sightseeing”
in the galleries, and several hands-on art projects. What kind of art projects
you ask? Take a look!
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.”
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
The house fell to fire in later years but the studio, now a
cottage, still stands.
In the spring of 1878, Remington wrote to his Uncle Horace
Sackrider, “I am going to try and get into Cornell College this coming June and
if I succeed will be a Journalist. I mean to study for an artist anyhow,
whether I ever make a success of it or not.”
Unfortunately for Remington, Cornell University did not have a journalism department at that time. Fortunately for us, Remington enrolled in the newly created School of Fine Arts at Yale instead. Our blog featured a previous post about Remington’s time at Yale, which was short. His collegiate career last about 1 ½ years, having decided not to return to college after the holiday break that year due to the death of his father.
During his time at Yale’s art school, Remington was one of 7
men, along with 30 other art students, in both the first art school at an
American university and the first coeducational school at Yale.
Yale opened its School of the Fine Arts in 1869. From the beginning, the school included women, which was in accordance with the wishes of its founders. The new institution was to be “a school for practical instruction, open to both sexes, to follow art as a profession.” In fact, the first person to earn a bachelor of fine arts degree at Yale (in 1891) was a woman.
Long after Remington had left Yale and was in the height of his artistic career, in 1900, the dean of the art school, John Ferguson Weir, proposed that Remington be awarded a Yale degree, despite the fact that the former student had completed only half of the three-year course of study. The letter from Weir on display in our current exhibit, Another Frontier: Frederic Remington’s East, outlines for Remington what was required of him for the awarding of the degree. Lest you think this was an honorary degree, the faculty minutes indicate that Remington was eligible for an earned one. How is that possible?
Dean Weir treated the BFA almost like an honorary degree. The
degree was intended for “students who have made special attainments and have
given evidence of marked ability in their work.” “One could not register for it
or get it in course,” stated drawing instructor George H. Langzettel, who had
received his own BFA in 1898. Rather, Dean Weir “kept in touch with the record
of students after they had become professionals, and then invited them to