November 2, 2017
Frederic Remington (1861-1909), Mountain Man, c.1900, bronze, 27 x 11 x 19 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Dr. and Mrs. Grant Southwick in memory of Dorothea Browning Patterson, 1975.
“I defy the annals of chivalry to furnish the record of a life more wild and perilous than that of a Rocky Mountain trapper.” -Francis Parkman, 19th-century historian
As each autumnal day wanes shorter than the last, we feature an iconic work by Frederic Remington, a late 19th-century New York artist. He hoped to convey the day-to-day reality of the Mountain Man, whose heyday was between 1820 and 1830. This bronze sculpture conveys the death-defying life of the trapper who precariously descends a daunting mountain incline on his horse. Like America’s indigenous peoples, the legendary Mountain Man or trapper became synonymous with the uncivilized wilderness in the public imagination of 19th-century America. Remington blends heroism, mythology, and romance in a lone figure who dons the fringed buckskin garments and moccasins of Plains Indian dress. Remington’s tropes established an image of the West that has endured for generations.