The Broncho Buster by Frederic Remington

Name: The Broncho Buster | Artist: Frederic Remington Media: Bronze | Year(s): ca. 1905 - 1906
Frederic Remington | The Broncho Buster | ca. 1905 - 1906 | Bronze | Private Collection

About the Work

In 1888 Remington provided many illustrations for Theodore Roosevelt's book, Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail. Roosevelt proclaimed the cowboy a heroic American type "as hardy and self-reliant as men who ever breathed." Like his friend Remington, Roosevelt extolled the cowboy's fearless horsemanship. "The flash riders, or horse-breakers, always called 'bronco busters,' can perform really marvelous feats, riding with ease the most vicious and unbroken beasts, that no ordinary cowboy would dare to tackle. Although sitting seemingly loose in the saddle, such a rider cannot be jarred out of it by the wildest plunges." Six years later, when Remington began work as a sculptor, he chose to model a cowboy on a bucking horse. His chosen type was an older man, a bit grizzled with age and hardened by experience, sporting a handlebar mustache and large, southwestern-style hat with the brim tilted upwards-just as one sees in his painting titled The Puncher, completed the same year as his first bronze sculpture.

The Broncho Buster was the first of Remington's subjects to be cast in bronze, and it proved to be the most popular of all his works; approximately 150 were produced in his lifetime. The vigorous action in this piece is palpable, but it is also restrained due to the superb balance of the figures. The first examples of the bronze were made using the sand cast process, but after 1900 Remington utilized the lost-wax method to create a number of variations in his design. In 1905-1906 he made a major change to his model that can be seen today in only eight examples, including this one: the cowboy wears a pair of highly textured "wooly" chaps instead of the smooth variety found on all the other casts. Such a complex feature was only possible with the lost-wax process, where Remington painstakingly created the shaggy high-relief textures on the surface of the wax model before it was cast.