Painted in 1895, The Puncher was a gift to noted illustrator Howard Pyle in return for one of Pyle's pirate illustrations, which had caught
Remington's eye when it appeared in a popular magazine. If pirates were pearls to Pyle, cowboys were "gems" to Remington. He describes the cowboys he met
as "quiet, determined and very courteous and pleasant to talk to. Their persons show wear and exposure and all together they look more as though they
followed cattle than the pursuit of pleasure. Such lined and grizzled and sun scorched faces are really quite unique." Remington could not help seeing "the
puncher" as a heroic ideal.