The Howl of the Weather by Frederic Remington

Name: The Howl of the Weather | Artist: Frederic Remington Media: Oil on canvas | Year(s): ca. 1905
Frederic Remington | The Howl of the Weather | ca. 1905 | Oil on canvas | Frederic Remington Art Museum, Ogdensburg, NY

About the Work

One of Remington's most dynamic North Country images, The Howl of the Weather portrays a survival-of-the fittest drama pitting vulnerable humans asserting themselves against nature's fearsome power. The steely tonality of the picture underpins the hardness of the weather and the strength of the canoeists' determination. Remington deftly organizes the composition so that the canoe's raised blade-like stem band cuts through the waves and curves back to the resolute gaze of the taut bowman, whose cocked elbow leads to the second canoeist, while his suspended paddle intersects with the head of the woman who grips the canoe's gunnel and clutches a frightened child. Remington keeps the focus on the exposed figures in the canoe by rendering only vaguely the scene's setting, although the distant low mountains do resemble those found around Cranberry Lake.

For years before acquiring Ingleneuk in 1900, Remington's favorite North Country retreat was Cranberry Lake, the third largest lake in the Adirondacks. Here he worked on illustrations for an 1891 deluxe edition of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's The Song of Hiawatha. Remington also wrote and illustrated an article for Harper's Monthly (August 1893) that chronicled a canoe trip that he and a guide undertook from Cranberry Lake, down the Oswegatchie River, to the St. Lawrence River. His account includes an intriguing passage, in light of this later painting: "We pushed out into the big lake and paddled. As we skirted the shores the wind howled...."

The intense, driving action that Remington conveys in this Eastern scene anticipates a similar sensation generated in his Western image The Buffalo Runners, Big Horn Basin, on view in the adjacent gallery.