Pete's Shanty by Frederic Remington

Name: Pete's Shanty | Artist: Frederic Remington Media: Oil on canvas | Year(s): 1908
Frederic Remington | Pete's Shanty | 1908 | Oil on canvas | Frederic Remington Art Museum, Ogdensburg, NY

About the Work

Pete Smith served as caretaker for Ingleneuk. "Faithful Pete" is what Remington's friend John Howard dubbed him. According to one Remington biographer, the artist anxiously waited each year to hear from Smith about the St. Lawrence River ice breaking up and spring arriving in the North Country; train tickets for Ingleneuk could then be purchased.

Pete's Shanty is one of Remington's most "French" of his Impressionist paintings. Its high-keyed palette, quickly applied short brushstrokes, and vivacious spirit echo compositions by Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro. Remington was pleased with his achievement, as evidenced by his diary entry for June 26, 1908: "A lollipaloozies day—made sketch of Pete's cabin—a true impressional use of the vivid greens of summer which is hard to make interesting but I got the violet light all right." He included this painting, along with five other small landscapes, in his 1908 exhibition at Knoedler Galleries in New York.

Despite his satisfaction with Pete's Shanty, Remington worried about the seriousness of such work. "The trouble with my landscapes is that they are merely pretty. I love the work though," he wrote in his 1908 diary. Remington understood his art to be about "subjects," that is, "something worthwhile," but his quickly executed, outdoor compositions led him to a heightened awareness and appreciation of the act of painting itself. Tellingly, when he picked up the newly framed works for his upcoming Knoelder exhibition, he complained in his diary that one of his big subject paintings lacked color in its main figure and another picture was too green. On the other hand, in same entry, he wrote, "Little landscapes look corking [very good]." The painterly Pete's Shanty was one of those that brought the artist pleasure.