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Frederic Remington (1861-1909); A Dash for the Timber; 1889; Oil on canvas; Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, Amon G. Carter Collection; 1961.381

Between 1885 and 1888, Remington made a number of trips to the Southwest, often to cover the activities of the U.S. Cavalry and its pursuit of renegade Apaches. He was deeply influenced by the stark landscape of the region and filled his sketchbooks with color notes and observations about the special quality of the light. In 1889, he wrote to a friend that he was working on “a big cowboy picture,” and he needed two or three pairs of chaps sent to him as soon as possible. He was referring to this painting, which launched his career when it received favorable critical attention at the National Academy of Design in New York the following year. The overall effect of the composition is riveting, as the fleeing riders gallop forward directly toward the viewer. Interestingly, this cinematic quality anticipates the many western films that were to follow a generation later.

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