Frederic Remington's Painting Textbook, Heavily Annotated, an Amazing Remington Association Piece
161. (Remington, Frederic): Herrick, H.W.: WATERCOLOR PAINTING: DESCRIPTION OF MATERIALS WITH DIRECTIONS FOR THEIR USE IN ELEMENTARY PRACTICE. SKETCHING FROM NATURE IN WATERCOLOR. New York. 1882. 128pp., 30pp. of advertising. Cloth, slight waterstains. Overall, near fine condition. With 62 full manuscript pages of notes in Remington's hand tipped in, written in ink, and as many pages of the text extensively annotated in ink and pencil.
This extraordinary volume is the textbook which Remington used during his only period as an art student; the ten months he spent at the Art Students League in New York City in the latter half of 1885 and the early half of 1886. It contains thousands of words in Remington's hand on the uses of colors and their practical application in painting. We know of no other document like it by Remington. After Remington dropped out of Yale, where he had taken a few art coursed, he went west. From 1880 until 1885, he ranched in Kansas, traveled in the West, and developed his artistic skills. He also married Eva Caten in 1884. The following year he covered the Apache campaign in Arizona and in the early fall of 1885, arrived in New York with a portfolio of sketches to offer magazines. By Remington's own account, his reception was a cool one. Realizing that his rough sketches lacked polish, Remington enrolled in the Art Students League. He later characterized the period he spent there as the only time he seriously applied himself to the study of artistic techniques. The annotations in this volume bear out that Remington attacked his work at the League with his characteristic energy and enthusiasm. By January of 1886, Harper's Weekly had published a Remington under his own name, and by the middle of that year he had enough work and felt assured enough to devote his full time to his own endeavors. It seems certain, therefore, that Remington produced the annotations in this volume during his period as a student. It is also notable that the work deals with the use of watercolors, a medium he used extensively in his early career. The first general exhibition Remington appeared in was the 1887 American Watercolor Society Show in New York, and he also exhibited in that group's show in 1888 and 1891. Since Remington as an artist is generally held to be largely self-taught, these annotations are even more unusual. This volume bears the bookplate of the “Eva Remington Memorial of her husband Frederic Remington and her parents, Lawton and Flora Caten.” It was part of a group of books given by Mrs. Remington to St. Lawrence College, a school with which her family was affiliated. Apparently, the school sold off a number of volumes from the Library, an action which so incensed Mrs. Remington that she kept the remaining volumes. They are now in the Remington Art Museum in Ogdensburg, New York, which her surviving sister was instrumental in founding. The part of Remington's library preserved there does not seem to contain any volumes with more than passing annotations. An extraordinary and unique record of one of the greatest Western painters.