Dragoons 1850 by Frederic Remington

Name: Dragoons 1850 | Artist: Frederic Remington Media: Bronze | Year(s): 1917
Frederic Remington | Dragoons 1850 | 1917 | Bronze | Private Collection

About the Work

Remington traveled frequently on sketching trips to the West; his observations of indigenous Americans, cavalrymen, scouts, and cowboys served as fodder for painting and illustration commissions. His career took an unexpected turn in 1895 when he learned the basics of clay modeling from the sculptor Frederick W. Ruckstull. Remington went on to model twenty-two sculpture groups, almost all western subjects. He designed his sculptures to feature movement, challenging the limits of the medium. His ability to seize a moment of dramatic tension and recreate it in bronze is apparent in Dragoons 1850. Remington's ambitious grouping includes five horses moving at top speed and four stretching, twisting riders: two American cavalrymen and two members of the Plains Indian tribes. The soldiers, known as Dragoons, patrolled the territories west of the Mississippi River and were trained to combat the Plains Indians, considered among the most formidable mounted fighters of all time. Here the men, wearing expressions of intense concentration, are locked in hand-to-hand combat. Each soldier wields a saber and carries a carbine, and is equipped with standard accoutrements of the Dragoons. Both native men carry shields; one has a raised tomahawk. A terrified riderless horse leads the group. As in many of his sculptures, Remington seemed to be challenging himself to have as few of the horses' hooves touch the ground as possible. A letter from Remington to Riccardo Bertelli of Roman Bronze Works attests to the amount of attention the artist lavished on the work: "I guess you had better not put Dragoons in fire until I see it again…Those big groups have got to be just so."