Exhibitor Philadelphia Print Shop West, considered one of the leading purveyors of antique maps & prints in the country, shares this insight on Remington’s prints.
Frederic Remington’s prints of the American West
Nowhere is the American West to be found more completely illustrated than in the works of Frederic Remington. After having lived and worked for a number of years in the waning days of the “Wild West,” Remington moved to New York where he developed a reputation as the foremost illustrator of the West, producing hundreds of images which were made into prints. There are essentially three types of original antique prints by Remington (there are lots of modern reproductions): magazine and newspaper illustrations, halftone prints sold separately or in portfolios, and original chromolithographs. These prints were all done for commercial purposes; that is, they were created with the intent to be used as illustrations in books or magazines, or for sale to the public to purchase to hang in their homes. They were issued in large numbers, though through attrition the antique Remington prints can be quite scarce.
Newspaper & Magazine Illustrations
The first commercial print after Remington was “Cow Boys of Arizona, Roused by a Scout,” issued in the February 25, 1882 issue of Harper’s Weekly. In 1886, Remington was commissioned by Harper’s Weekly as an artist-correspondent to cover the U.S. government’s campaign against Geronimo. This began his very successful career as an illustrator, with Remington providing art work for Harper’s Weekly as well as other magazines and books. Between 1882 and 1913 Remington’s drawings and paintings appeared as original illustrations in seventeen publications. Initially, they were done as wood-engraving, but in the 1890s the publications started to use photomechanical screened halftones instead, so the later Remington illustrations tend to be made by this process. In the early twentieth century Collier’s Weekly and other publications started to reproduce his work as color halftones.
Collier’s thought so highly of Remington’s work that in 1905 they began to issue color halftones after his paintings in portfolios and as separate prints. These were done in a number of sizes, over a number of years, and with different levels of quality. Interestingly, the early prints were called “Artists Proofs” by Collier’s. Traditionally, this term meant a print was pulled before publication, so the artist could inspect it, but Collier’s was simply using this terms as a selling tool. Collier’s also issued a number of Remington halftone images as separate prints for framing, again in different sizes.
The rarest and best quality prints by Remington are chromolithographs. These are images which were printed from multiple lithographic stones, one per color. The first of these were two prints, “Antelope Hunting” and “Goose Shooting,” issued in 1889 in a portfolio entitled Sport: or Shooting and Fishing. This portfolio included fifteen chromolithographs after important American sporting artists of the day, such as A.B. Frost, Frederic S. Cozzens, Frank H. Taylor and R.F. Zogbaum. For Remington to be included in this august group was evidence of his increasing fame.
Just over a decade later, in 1901, a portfolio was issued by R.H. Russell of New York containing eight lithographs based solely on Remington’s work. This set, A Bunch of Buckskins, included folio sized chromolithographs, four of ‘rough riders” and four of Native Americans. A year later, Charles Scribner’s Sons reissued four prints, which had appeared previously in Scribner’s Magazine, as chromolithographs in a portfolio entitled Western Types. The last chromolithograph after Remington was a separate print issued in 1908 of “The Last of His Race.” This print is an “oleograph,” which essentially is an elaborate chromolithograph printed using oil based inks on canvas and varnished so as to resemble an oil painting.
Find Philadelphia Print Shop West at our November Show, and find more information about their offerings on their website: https://pps-west.com.