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Hood Museum of Art
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH 03755
603.646.2808
hood.museum@dartmouth.edu

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Frederic Remington, American, 1861-1909

Shotgun Hospitality
1908
Oil on canvas
Gift of Judge Horace Russell, Class of 1865; P.909.2

 

Although Remington achieved unprecedented success as an illustrator of the American West early in his career, he did not receive critical attention as a painter until his final years. Shotgun Hospitality, completed a year before his death, reflects the changes in Remington’s style that brought him wider acclaim. In Remington’s preference for nocturnes and for exploring the subtle modulations of a unifying hue, he reflected the aesthetic interests of many contemporary American landscape painters, especially the impressionists. Yet he remained devoted to depicting the figure and to subjects that, while increasingly contemplative, still appealed to an audience eager for nostalgic images of life in the American West. Rather than focusing strictly on action and narrative detail, this enigmatic nighttime scene explores mood, atmosphere, and the psychological tension surrounding an encounter between an independent or “shotgun” freighter, who travels alone on the prairie transporting cargo, and three Plains Indians. The painting is virtuosic in its daring color scheme and dramatic lighting effects. (Remington noted in his diary, “Firelight and moon—very difficult.”) The imposing central placement of the Native American visitor’s deeply shadowed back is equally bold. We are left to surmise his critically important facial expression and the next exchange in this prairie meeting. Judge Horace Russell, Class of 1865, purchased this painting for Dartmouth from Remington’s 1908 exhibition at Knoedler Gallery in New York, which included nine nocturnes. No doubt he found the painting’s subject matter particularly appropriate for the College, given Dartmouth’s founding mission to instruct Native Americans. Remington expressed elation with the critical response to the Knoedler exhibition, which he dubbed “a triumph. I have landed among the painters and well up too.”

Last Updated: 4/29/09