The Cheyenne by Frederic Remington

Name: The Cheyenne | Artist: Frederic Remington Media: Bronze | Year(s): ca. 1904
Frederic Remington | The Cheyenne | ca. 1904 | Bronze | Private Collection

About the Work

In July 1888 Remington traveled through Texas and Oklahoma on assignment for The Century Magazine. In Texas he complained about the heat, mosquitoes, and the food; in a letter to his wife he mentioned that he stayed in Fort Worth and had "a devil of a time." During this trip he had the opportunity to observe the Cheyenne Indians at Fort Reno, north of the Red River. He had heard many accounts of their fearless war exploits, and wanted to see them for himself. "They were almost invariably tall men with fine Indian features," he later wrote. "They wore the hair caught by braids very low on the shoulders, making a black mass about the ears." He also noted that because they all had been "literally bred on a horse's back . . . one needs no assurance that they do ride splendidly."

Perhaps Remington had these earlier experiences in mind in 1901 when he created his sixth work in bronze of a Cheyenne warrior "burning the air," as he described it. The first of his bronzes to be cast in one piece, it is a brilliant evocation of fluid motion through space. Everything in the composition suggests movement; the warrior leans far forward, his thick hair flying loosely as his horse charges at a furious gallop with all four of its legs in the air. Even the trailing buffalo robe, which serves an ingenious role as a structural support, appears fully animated and in motion. Offered at a retail price of $250, the bronze became the second most popular of the artist's works. A total of twenty casts were produced before Remington himself destroyed the mold. It is interesting to compare the vigorous, charging motion of the bronze horse and rider with the men and horses also "burning the air" in Remington's action-filled painting titled Buffalo Runners-Big Horn Basin.