FORT WORTH – “Western Treasures” opens Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013, and runs through Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, at the Sid Richardson Museum, 309 Main Street in Sundance Square.
The exhibition of 39 paintings will reunite popular works by Frederic Remington (1861-1909), Charles M. Russell (1864-1926) and their contemporaries with rarely seen paintings from the permanent collection. Visitors will also view six bronze sculptures by Remington and Russell on loan from private collections.
Now temporarily closed, the museum will reopen on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. Admission will be free, and the museum will be open daily except for major holidays. For information, go to www.sidrichardsonmuseum.org or call (817) 332.6554.
The museum features paintings of the late 19th- and early 20th-century American West by Remington, Russell, and other artists of the era amassed by the legendary Texas oilman and philanthropist, Sid W. Richardson (1891-1959). Opened in 1982, it is considered to have one of the most significant private collections of Remington and Russell paintings in the U.S.
“’Western Treasures’ celebrates the strength of our collection and enables us to gain a greater appreciation of the early work of Russell, with emphasis on his affinity with the American Indian,” said Mary Burke, director of the museum. “The paintings on display reflect Sid Richardson’s fascination with the American West and affirm his foresight in collecting paintings by the artists who best captured the spirit and history of our western frontier.”
The museum is grateful to Rick Stewart, Ph.D., an authority on Remington and Russell, for his assistance in selecting the bronze sculptures from private collections.
Highlights of the Exhibition
Of the 39 paintings, three have not been displayed in the museum in several years—“The Scout” (1907), “Seeking New Hunting Grounds” (ca. 1891), and “Bringing Up the Trail” (1895)—and one has never been displayed in the museum before now, “Western Scene” (ca. 1885).
One of the oldest Russell paintings collected by Richardson, “Western Scene” is believed to be Russell’s first formal commission, completed when he was 21 years old. Painted with house paint on a pine board, the painting hung above the bar in the saloon owned by his friend, James R. Shelton, in Montana’s Judith Basin. While clearly the work of a developing artist, it depicts themes Russell returns to throughout his career and includes a buffalo skull, which later became his trademark.
“Seeking New Hunting Grounds” and “Bringing Up the Trail,” oil paintings completed when Russell was 27 and 31, respectively, illustrate one of his favorite themes at the end of the 19th century: Indians breaking camp. These two compelling paintings show women and children on the move, outfitted for travel.
“The Scout,” a watercolor by Russell, shows a solitary, proud, mounted warrior, poised for action. It complements the Russell bronze, “The Enemy’s Tracks” (unnumbered cast, ca. 1929?1934), a mounted Blackfoot warrior leaning over to examine tracks. With “The Scout” and “The Enemy’s Tracks,” Russell captures life and death duties of the Indian scout on the frontier.
“Buffalo Hunt” (cast # unknown, ca.1928) was Russell’s first attempt to portray (in bronze) Indians hunting buffalo, the subject most represented in his paintings. The three bronzes depicting American Indian rituals, “The Scalp Dancer” (cast #6, 1914), “The Snake Priest” (unknown cast #, 1914), and “Smoking with the Spirit of the Buffalo” (unknown cast #, 1915) are examples of smaller Russell bronzes created for a public eager for his decorative and utilitarian bronzes.
The exhibition includes paintings by contemporaries of Russell and Remington. In “The Pow Wow” (ca. 1890), William Gilbert Gaul portrays Plains Indian life in transition. “Nai-U-Chi: Chief of the Bow, Zuni” (1895) is Charles Francis Browne’s portrait of an elder brother in one of the most prestigious Zuni societies. These two paintings are joined by works by Frank Tenney Johnson, William R. Leigh, and Charles Schreyvogel. Schreyvogel’s “Attack on the Herd” (ca. 1907) is paired with Remington’s bronze, “Dragoons 1850” (cast # 5, 1917). Striking in its scale, “Dragoons 1850,” like “Attack on the Herd,” captures a dramatic moment of combat on horseback. In their day, only Schreyvogel rivaled Remington in the public’s esteem.
About the Museum’s Docent-Guided Tours
Starting Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013, docents will lead free gallery tours of “Western Treasures” each Tuesday and Saturday at 2 p.m. Group tours are by appointment only.
Beginning on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013, on the Second Saturday of each month at 3 p.m., the gallery tour will be followed by a live performance of a docent portrayed as Nancy Cooper Russell, wife of Charles M. Russell, telling stories about his career.
Friday, Sept. 27, 6:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m. lecture: Remington and Russell painted in an era of great transformation. Dr. Mark Thistlethwaite, Kay and Velma Kimbell Chair of Art History, Texas Christian University, will place these two artists into the dynamically changing world of the U.S. at the turn of the 20th century. Seating is limited; reservations are required. Contact Leslie Thompson at 817.332.6554, or firstname.lastname@example.org.