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According to Michael D. Greenbaum, author of Icons of the West, Frederic Remington’s Sculpture, “A reviewer called The Rattlesnake ‘a bit of character … the horse shying at the sight and the horseman just about to cast his broad-brimmed hat over the repulsive coils.’ Copyrighted in 1905 and reworked three years later, The Rattlesnake, Remington’s twelfth statuette, was described by the artist as a ‘cowboy on broncho … rattlesnake on ground ready to attack horse.’ The rearing bronc and rider, posed masterfully in a spiraling sweep of motion, became one of Remington’s most popular works. The artist’s marvelous knowledge of anatomy, action and expression were strikingly infused in the bronze’s unfolding drama. Shortly after it was completed, Collier’s further called it ‘the Work of a master’s hand.’

“In 1908, after eleven fine castings of the approximately twenty-one inch tall model had been produced, Remington significantly altered the sculpture. He worked nearly every day for several weeks to improve the symmetry and movement of the group. ‘Very cold day,’ he noted in his diary on February 8. ‘Worked all day on Rattlesnake and think my modeling has greatly improved.’ Two days later he wrote, ‘Worked on Rattlesnake … doing good.’ The following week the new model was ‘all but done but the surface fussing.’ It took longer to create than he had expected, but when finally completed it was ‘a great improvement’ on the smaller version. ‘I hope no one sees them together,’ he mused. The new version was nearly three inches taller than its predecessor. The cowboy, still dressed in finely textured wooly chaps, lurched forward in a more pronounced curve to accommodate the violent movement of the rearing horse, whose forelegs Remington tucked evenly under its body.”

Coeur d’Alene Art Auction, Reno, Nevada, 2019
Private collection, Reno, Nevada

Michael D. Greenbaum, Icons of the West, Frederic Remington’s Sculpture, Frederic Remington Art Museum, 1996, pp. 123-28, illustrated
Peter H. Hassrick, Frederic Remington Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture in the Amon Carter Museum and the Sid W. Richardson Foundation Collections, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1973, pp. 200-01, illustrated
Harold McCracken, The Frederic Remington Book, Doubleday, 1966, p. 255, illustrated
Michael Edward Shapiro, Frederic Remington: The Masterworks, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1988, pp. 211, 213, illustrated

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