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“A Dash for the Timber” by Frederic Remington

"A Dash for the Timber" by Frederic Remington

“A Dash for the Timber” by Frederic Remington

“A Dash for the Timber” by Frederic Remington depicts eight mounted cowboys and a packhorse in full gallop ahead of a pursuing war-party of Indians also on horseback. Three riders shoot over their shoulders as they race for the cover of the trees ahead.

The blue sky above and the purple shadows below contrasts with the orange-peach ground and the horse gallop’s white dust. The composition engages the audience as the fleeing riders gallop directly toward the viewer.

His skillful portrayal of the horses with nostrils flaring and muscle strained to their limits, and the gritty determination of the riders anticipated the many western films that were to follow a generation later. 

The overall effect of this large canvas is a cinematic and action-filled portrayal of the American frontier. Compositions such as this one made Remington’s iconic western images popular in the imagination of cowboy and Indian stereotypes.

Remington painted this picture in 1889, at the age of twenty-eight in his studio after several trips to the Southwest. He was welcomed to observe the activities of the U.S. Cavalry and its pursuit of renegade Apaches.

The landscape and dramatic human events deeply influenced him. He used his sketchbooks to capture the color and the quality of the light. Remington took photographs with the latest equipment and collected artifacts to use in his paintings.

This painting launched his career when it received favorable critical acclaim at the National Academy of Design in New York the following year. 

Remington was one of the first American artists to illustrate the true gait of the horse in motion. Previously, horses in full gallop were usually depicted with all four legs pointing out.

The galloping horse became Remington’s signature subject, copied and interpreted by many Western artists who followed him, adopting the correct anatomical motion.

Though criticized by some for his use of photography, Remington often created depictions that slightly exaggerated natural motion to satisfy the eye.

He wrote:

“the artist must know more than the camera
… (the horse must be) incorrectly drawn from the photographic standpoint
(to achieve the desired effect).”

Remington eagerly acquired many authentic artifacts to be used later as props and made many photos and sketches valuable for later paintings.

He also made detailed notes on the West’s true colors, such as “shadows of horses should be a cool carmine and Blue,” to supplement the black-and-white photos.

Ironically, art critics later criticized his palette as unnatural even though it was based on actual observation.

“The Smoke Signal” by Frederic Remington

Frederic Remington

Frederic Sackrider Remington (1861 – 1909) was an American painter, illustrator, and sculptor specializing in the American Old West’s depictions.

Remington’s artworks depict the Western United States at the end of the 1800s, featuring such images as cowboys, American Indians, and the United States Cavalry.

His style was naturalistic, sometimes impressionistic, and his focus was on the West’s men and animals, with landscape usually of secondary importance.

Frederic Remington

Frederic Remington

A Dash For The Timber by Frederic Remington

A Virtual Tour of American Artists You Should Know

Fredric Remington: The Illustrator

A Dash for the Timber 1889 Frederic Remington 1861-1909 Amon Carter Museum Fort Worth


“In Arizona, nature allures with her gorgeous color and then repels with the cruelty of her formation—waterless, barren, and desolate.”
– Frederic Remington


Photo Credit: 1) Deputy tex, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

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