Original 1895; cast about 1919-20
Gift of Lawrence Marx Jr., Class of 1936; S.960.13.2
With little formal art training, and previous experience only in illustration, Frederic Remington first turned his energies to sculpture in 1895. He found that he enjoyed the process, and after about three months of sculpting he wrote to his friend, the novelist Owen Wister, “My watercolors will fade—but I am to endure in bronze— even rust does not touch. . . . I am doing a cowboy on a bucking broncho [sic; referring to this sculpture] and I am going to rattle down through all the ages.” Remington’s boastful prediction has been borne out fully, since Bronco Buster continues to be his most popular work. The first seventy or so castings of this sculpture— his first effort in the medium—were made by the Henry-Bonnard Bronze Company. After this foundry burned in 1898, Remington had his sculpture produced by the Roman Bronze Works, which made about three hundred castings of Bronco Buster over a period of about twenty years. This sculpture fed into the popular romanticization of the American cowboy at the turn of the twentieth century and drew acclaim for its riveting stop-action realism. Remington’s rugged Western imagery held particular appeal for men in Eastern cities who wistfully imagined that the cowboy and his life on the ever-shrinking frontier epitomized true masculinity and American self-reliance. Remington captures the cowboy and horse held together in a peak moment of physical exertion and extension, as they appear about to fly off of the base. As much as they strain against one another, they are locked together, invoking the eternal struggles between mankind and nature.
Last Updated: 4/29/09