On October 4, 1861, in Canton, New York, Remington entered the world to parents Seth and Clara. A newspaper editor, Seth decided to join the Union Army at the start of the Civil War. Six long years later, he rejoined his family and reunited with his young son. Over time Seth became disenchanted with his newspaper career and moved to Ogdensburg, New York and found work on the St. Lawrence River port as a customs officer. His son Frederic didn't mind the move because he loved exploring the outdoors, hunting, riding, reading, and drawing.
Enthusiastic about his ability to draw, Remington intended to continue learning and become an artist. His mother and father believed Remington should find a more suitable career in business but allowed his entrance to Yale School of the Fine Arts. Once there Remington didn't like the atmosphere but didn't want to upset his parents further, so he stayed. When his father passed away years later, Remington had to support himself and could leave Yale without causing family problems. Time passed as he looked for work.
Though he found the woman he wanted to marry, Remington didn't have the assets to support her. Determined to find steady employment, he tried his hand at raising sheep. His plan failed, but he still married Eva Canten and moved to Kansas City. One problem after another, bad investments, and mismanagement caused Eva to return to her family until Remington could find a meaningful career. All else having been a bust, Remington turned to doing illustrations as a freelance artist. He sketched the Apaches and Geronimo in Arizona and then moved back to New York to take classes at the Art Students League. Little did Remington know that his drawings of Geronimo would become immensely popular when the U.S. government and military sought to subdue the Apaches. Outing
magazine and Harper's Weekly
bought the work of this suddenly "western" illustrator.
His financial success reunited him with his wife, and Remington continued illustrating. When he wanted someone to write a piece to go with his drawings, a magazine told him to do it himself. This led to numerous articles, essays to accompany his growing reputation as an artist who depicted horses and the western frontier. Remington wanted the country to understand about life on the reservations and the destruction of Native American life as they knew it. Reporting on the battle at Wounded Knee, Remington was sickened by the accounts of success and victory for the United States. That wasn't how he had seen it, so he left the country for some time, visiting Germany, Russia, and North Africa.
After returning to the U.S., Remington put much effort into writing short stories and books. He faced further disappointment when as a correspondent he covered the Spanish-American War in Cuba. Making sketches that eventually became Charge Up San Juan Hill
, a famous painting, Remington, nonetheless, felt horrified by war. He gave up illustrations and turned to painting and sculpting as he also produced stories that turned into novels. Busy, popular, and constructive, Remington seemed to be making his way in the world when suddenly he died on December 26, 1909 from appendicitis.
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