Hailed as a chronicler of the American West, Frederic Remington was a multitalented artist who enjoyed success as an illustrator, writer, sculptor, and painter. His drawings of cavalry troops, cowboys, and Indians filled popular periodicals such as Harper's Weekly and Collier's. One contemporary critic declared that most easterners got their image of the West from Remington's work.
Though identified with the American West, Remington actually spent much of his life in the East. Born in Canton, New York, in 1861, Remington briefly attended the School of Fine Arts at Yale before starting work as a reporter. As a young man, he traveled widely, sketching the people and places of the new American frontier. By 1886 he was established as an illustrator, selling work to many of the major magazines. By the mid-1890s he was one of the most popular and successful illustrators of the age.
In 1898, at the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Remington went to Cuba as a war correspondent. He was deeply shaken by the reality of combat. His return to the U.S. was followed by a period of great creativity, in particular, his experimentation with nocturnal images. Filled with danger, threatened violence, and menacing silence, these paintings often mirror, metaphorically, Remington's experience of war.
In his short lifetime (he died at age 48), Remington produced more than 3,000 drawings and paintings, 22 bronze sculptures, a novel, a Broadway play, and over 100 articles and stories. Coinciding with the closing of the American frontier and the first decade of the twentieth century, the night paintings are seen by many as elegies for a vanished past.