Canada by Frederic Remington

Name: Canada | Artist: Frederic Remington Media: Oil on board | Year(s): 1909
Frederic Remington | Canada | 1909 | Oil on board | Frederic Remington Art Museum, Ogdensburg, NY

About the Work

This is one of two paintings that Remington made from the same spot on the bank of the Pontiac Club's Smith Lake. A black and white photograph, presumably taken by Remington, of the same locale also exists. Since this composition is signed and titled by the artist, he must have considered it to be the finished work. It provides a fine example of his notion of art being a process of elimination.

Throughout his career, Remington took and collected photographs for reference and source material. About ten days after leaving the Pontiac Club, the artist received Kodak prints of photographs he had taken there. He noted in his diary their arrival and dismissed them by declaring: "they are unsignificant [sic] like all photographs." A photograph labeled "Smith Lake" records the same scene depicted in Canada. However, the photograph includes a boat and what appears to be a canoe on the lake's bank, and a large tree stump. The other painted version of this site removes the watercraft from the bank, diminishes the size of the tree stump and foreground, while adding two men canoeing in the middle of the lake. In painting Canada, Remington continued the process of elimination by omitting the canoeists and by simplifying the form of the tree stump. Through this reductive process, Remington was able to bring viewers more directly and closer to the water's edge, and, by deleting the canoe and its paddlers, the immediate experience of the landscape becomes more purely the focus of the painting.