The End of the Day by Frederic Remington

Name: The End of the Day | Artist: Frederic Remington Media: Oil on canvas | Year(s): ca. 1904
Frederic Remington | The End of the Day | ca. 1904 | Oil on canvas | Frederic Remington Art Museum, Ogdensburg, NY

About the Work

During the last ten years of his life, Remington produced over seventy paintings known as nocturnes. Three western examples-The Luckless Hunter, A Taint on the Wind, and A Figure of the Night-from the Sid Richardson Museum collection currently hang in the adjacent gallery. "Nocturne" was a term associated with the American expatriate James Abbott McNeill Whistler, whose approach to painting Remington disliked; "Whistler was lacking in the only characteristic which distinguishes an artist from a common man-imagination," wrote Remington in his diary. Nevertheless, Remington's series of nocturnes ("moonlights," he called them) began after viewing a New York exhibition of paintings by Charles Rollo Peters, an artist profoundly influenced by Whistler's compositions.

The End of the Day depicts a North Country logging camp. As day turns to night, two horses stand patiently while being unhitched from a sled; another pulls in. Sleds carried logs down to a river in winter, where they could be rolled into the water when the spring thaw arrived (see River Drivers in the Spring Break Up on the opposite wall). The falling snow effect that Remington achieves is remarkable. Warm light glowing in the distant cookhouse discreetly counters the freezing working conditions. By eliminating cast shadows and suffusing a bluish gray tonality throughout the composition, Remington conjures up a muted, dreamlike scene. In doing this, Remington's picture resembles the aesthetic of late nineteenth-century American artists who became known as Tonalists. Dreamy effects and misty forms distinguished their images and lent them a poetic sensibility.

A contemporary critic perceived this sensation in Remington's art when describing another of his North Country landscapes in words that resonate with The End of the Day: "The picture is subtly filled with atmosphere. It is as though the painter has been stirred by a new emotion and had begun to feel his way toward a sheer loveliness unobtainable amid the crackly chromatic phenomena of the West."