The Remington exhibit goes to Ellen Noël

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May 14 – Frederic Remington specializes in his paintings and sculptures of the American West.

Now, visitors to the Ellen Noel Art Museum have the opportunity to see many of his earlier works in an exhibition entitled Dramatic Moments.

The exhibition presents an outstanding collection of large format vintage engravings by Remington, which have appeared in publications such as Harper’s Weekly.

These are the images that launched Remington’s illustration career and provided the platform from which he rose to become one of the West’s most celebrated painters.

“He started out as an artist because he was a magazine illustrator at the time,” said Daniel Zies, curator of the Ellen Noel Art Museum. “The ones we have on display are Harper’s Weekly.”

During his travels west, Remington documented what he saw.

“They used engraving to illustrate photos in newspapers and magazines and what not,” Zies said. “That’s where it all comes into play.”

This special exhibit is on loan from the Lee Silliman Engraving Collection.

“That’s from a personal collection, which is where we got it from,” Zies said. “She’s borrowed. He mainly does western illustrations and prints, that’s his main focus. He put this exhibit together and he has been collecting Remingtons for some time.”

What strikes Zies most about this exhibition is that it predates his fame as a painter and sculptor.

“I love that this is kind of early stuff for Remington,” Zies said. “Most people know him as a painter and sculptor, but that’s how he started. You can see a lot of what he’s trying to do with these illustrations. We also have a few copies by his sculptors in the exhibition.”

The images not only document Remington’s rise to fame and fortune, but also chronicle the convulsive events of the final decades of the Western Frontier era.

“This is an interesting exhibit because it’s more of a historical exhibit and speaks more than the actual engravings, which actually speak of a process by which people obtained visual information from photography years ago,” said Sheila Perry, Executive Director of Ellen Noel. “These were printed in a magazine like Harper’s Weekly and people would collect them and frame them and put them in their homes. There’s a social component, not just an artistic component. There’s the artistic value, but it’s also a unique period in American history where artists documented the images and they were printed in magazines and newspapers.”

Remington would eventually move on to painting and sculpting. While most people know him as a Western painter, he was actually a northerner, born in New York. He died in 1909 at the age of 48.

“Everyone thinks he was born in the west, but he’s actually a northerner, which I find interesting,” Zies said.

Throughout his life, Remington became known for his Western genre painting style.

“People know him,” Perry said. “People have seen his work. It’s a job that appeals to her in many ways. We are very pleased that we were able to bring some of his earlier work with us as it is not typical of what you see when you see a Remington. Starting from humble beginnings and being mostly self-taught, his ability to render was truly exceptional. We’re excited to bring something that’s really interesting socially and celebrates a great American artist.”

According to Perry, the exhibition has received many positive responses from visitors so far.

“People are really enjoying it,” Perry said. “It’s a quiet exhibition. It’s one of those experiences that you go through, and there’s a lot happening visually. People take their time to look at each one. People find it really fascinating. They are also interested in seeing American history come to life from a bygone era. It’s a silent experience.”

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