Sid Richardson Collection of Western Art
Fort Worth, TX
The Sid Richardson Collection of Western Art in Fort Worth, Texas, features a magnificent collection of paintings by the premier artists of the American West, Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell. On permanent display are 56 paintings from the personal collection of the late oilman and philanthropist Sid W. Richardson.
Richardson became interested in western art in the 1940's and asked Bertram M. Newhouse, president of Newhouse Galleries in New York City, to form a collection of western pictures for him. The gallery continued as his principal source from 1942 until 1947, during which time he acquired the majority of his paintings.
Today, Richardson's complete collection is owned the Sid W. Richardson Foundation, which maintains offices above the museum. The foundation's trustees chose the museum's site both for its convenience to downtown visitors and workers and for the historic atmosphere of the area. The museum is located in Sundance Square, an area of restored turn-of-the-century buildings containing shops, restaurants, theatres and museums in the heart of downtown Fort Worth. The building is a replica of the original 1895 structure which was rebuilt after it was damaged by fire in 1980. (Right: Portrait of Sid Richardson, by Peter Hurd (1903-1984), 1958, oil on panel, 32 x 48 inches)
In 1982, the museum opened it doors with 16 Remingtons and 34 Rusells on permanent display, Since then, several Remington paintings have been added to the collection. Scare in the Pack Train (1908) and The Dry Camp (1907), two of Remington's late period, impressionistic works were acquired by the museum in January 1983. A third Remington painting, Among the Led Horses, (1909) was added in 1993. The newest acquisition is a romantic Remington nocturne, The Love Call, (1909) purchased in 1996.
In addition to the works of Remington and Russell, the museum displays two silver parade saddles that belonged to Richardson and a selection of bronzes on loan from the Amon Carter Museum. The saddles were made in 1947 by Edward H. Bohlin, a well known California saddle maker and silversmith whose custom gear has been owned by such movie stars as John Wayne, Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers and the Lone Ranger. They were presented to Richardson by Amon G. Carter, Sr. at the Fort Worth Fat Stock Show in 1947.
The museum has attracted over 500,000 visitors since opening in late 1982. A guest book has been kept for the past five years. Signing it have been visitors from nearly every country in the world, including Western Europe, South America, Japan, Egypt, China, Romania, Tonga and Australia. Comments in the guest book, written in English and other languages, range from "A jewel for all international guests" to "smashing" to "Catches the spirit of the West." One visitor wrote, "Thanks Sid!"
Because of the resurgence of activity in the downtown area and to accommodate visitors, guests and conventioneers who may be unable to view the collection during the day, the museum's hours have been extended to 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Jan Brenneman has served as director of the museum since its opening. Other full time staff includes Monica Herman, Assistant Director, Mary Burke, Curator of Education and Joan Zalenski, Registrar. The museum offers educational tours of the collection for adults and children, as well as outreach programs to local schools and community groups.
Books, prints, prints on canvas, posters, gift, and cards are for sale in the museum store and by mail. The museum is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. It is closed Monday and major holidays. Admission is free.
Please click on the thumbnail images below for a brief tour of a portion of the museum's collection:
Buffalo Runners - Big Horn Basin
Frederic Remington, 1909, Oil on canvas
Remington (and his critics) had always doubted his color sense. After 1900 he discovered the joys of applying paint freely, stroking more boldly and allowing his own sense of light and shadow to dictate his palette. Buffalo Runners, Big Horn Basin is a riot of sunstruck hues - yellow ochres, warm browns, rusts and reds - sweeping across the canvas with an abandon to match that of the racing riders. Painted in the last year of Remington's life, it is a throwback to his earliest Western experiences and the emotions they generated. "I have always wanted to be able to paint running horses so you would feel the details and not see them," he confided to his diary in 1908. Buffalo Runners, Big Horn Basin is a high point in Remington's hard-earned transformation into an American Impressionist painter.
Frederic Remington, 1889, Oil on canvas
Painted in 1889, The Sentinel was inspired by an earlier trip to the Southwest that took Remington through Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and into Mexico. In the deserts of the southern Arizona, Remington sketched the Papagos, a peaceful people long under the sway of the Spaniards and Mexicans. They had no enemies apart from the Apaches, who were a constant menace, and, outside the mission San Xavier del Bac, a mounted Papago kept vigil. Remington had published a sheet of twelve drawings, Sketches among the Papagos of San Xavier, in Harper's Weekly, April 2, 1887. In this striking oil, he combined three of them - a Papago home, the mission proper, and the guard on lookout for Apaches.
The Luckless Hunter
Frederic Remington, 1909, Oil on canvas
After witnessing the reality of the Spanish-American War, Remington could no longer glamorize combat as he once had. Much of his youthful exuberance had vanished, replaced by a growing sense of loss over the Wild West that had once nurtured his artistry and was now a fading memory. Embracing the old West with renewed passion, he, who had been a master of action, a storyteller in line and paint, became a student of mood, and some of his paintings were infused with a brooding intensity. Contemporaries recognized this new direction in The Luckless Hunter with its obvious air of despair. Rather than being conquered by the Cavalry in combat on a sun-drenched battlefield, the Indian is shown reduced to helplessness by hunger. The night air is brittle, the sky speckled with frozen stars, the snow-covered landscape as barren as the moon that washes it in pale light. There is nothing left to sustain the will to resist, or even to go on.
Self-Portrait on a Horse
Frederic Remington, c. 1890, Oil on canvas
In paint and prose Remington paid enduring tribute to his ideal, the wasp-waisted officers and men of the U.S. Army. However, he realized that not being a professional soldier was what permitted him to romanticize the soldier's calling. When he came to paint himself into the West he was immortalizing, it was as a cowboy. Although he never worked as one, he claimed to know "that gentlemen to his character's end." Asked about the audience for his art, Remington replied in 1903 "Boys-boys between twelve and seventy..." Here, in his only full-fledged self-portrait, we have a boy of nearly thirty, dressed up as a cowboy on a white horse under one of those skies that are not cloudy all day. The angle is heroic. Horse and rider tower over the viewer,who has no choice but to gaze up at them. Youthful fantasies, that smug face tells us, can be realized.
Apache Medicine Song
Frederic Remington, 1908, Oil on canvas
In Apache Medicine Song the campfire's glow provides orange highlights in a sea of greens and browns, while deep shadows fringe the picture. Although theirs is a religious rite, the flickering light playing over the faces of the chanting warriors distorts their features with a demonlike, chilling effect as if they are about to cast an evil spell. As an illustrator, Remington had always been attracted to campfire scenes, but it was in his late, impressionistic phase that he fully realized the dramatic potential of firelight. This effect was only one of several that Remington perfected in the burst of creative energy that marked the last years of his life.
Charles M. Russell, 1902, Oil on canvas
While raiding parties tended to be small and stealthy, these advance scouts carry weapons that suggest they are out for blood and would welcome a fight. Apparently they have spotted something and are waiting for the others to catch up. Russell often set scenes like this at day's end and in later works the Indians became almost unthreatening as they basked in the sun's fading warmth, perfect symbols of Russell's own nostalgia for the vanished West. Here, although the sky is roseate and the setting sun washes the men in pinks and reds, they exude menace and appear lean, tough and full of fight.
Man's Weapons are Useless When Nature Goes Armed
(Weapons of the Weak; Two of a Kind Win)
Charles M. Russell, 1916, Oil on canvas
While Russell painted buffalo and bear in profusion as symbols of the untamed West, he also loved nature's smaller creatures, from the prairie dog to the field mouse and, as this humorous tribute suggests, had nothing but respect for the lowly skunk. Two hunters return at dusk after a day in the field to find their camp ransacked and their evening meal of pork and beans partially devoured by an invading duo that they can repel only at the risk of having their nest fouled. This amusing oil was inscribed as a thank you to Russell's good friend, Howard Eaton, a pioneer dude rancher, after Russell rode with Eaton on a particularly memorable trip through Arizona and along the Grand Canyon in October, 1916.
Charles M. Russell, 1904, Pencil, watercolor, and gouache on paper
Despite his aversion to bronco busting, there is no denying Russell's uncanny feel for horse anatomy. He could twist man and animal any way he wanted for purposes of action, yet, since he visualized the figures in the round, always make his distortions seem natural. The vertical composition of this watercolor emphasizes the towering height of the bucking horse and its rider as they crowd the edges of the painting and threaten to explode right out of it.
Captain William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
Meeting with the Indians of the Northwest
Charles M. Russell, 1897, Oil on canvas
The Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804-1806) stirred Russell's imagination like no other event in Montana's past and he painted it a number of times both in color and black and white. Though this painting was originally called Lewis and Clark Meeting the Mandan Indians, the specific occurrence Russell meant to depict remains unclear. Here, Clark steps forward with aloof dignity to shake hands with the Indian headman while Charbonneau, husband of Sacajawea, interprets and Clark's black servant, York, looks on. As was traditional at the time, the figures appear stiffly conventionalized and the colors "kind of stout," to use Russell's own words, running to browns and greys. None the less, this impressive, large scale performance was a touchstone work in defining Russell's local reputation in the year he took up permanent residence in Great Falls.
Wounded (The Wounded Buffalo)
Charles M. Russell, 1909, Oil on canvas
Russell wrote of that most prized possession of the plains Indian hinter, his buffalo horse. Here he illustrates his pint and also his fluency in painting the subject. The snow-patched landscape, the receding flow of the chase, the frosty bite of the air, and the action - especially the aggressive charge of the cow and the frantic leap of the horse - are all expertly portrayed. Russell's own experience in a buffalo, stimulating his artistry, which he expressed in this dramatic painting of a wounded cow defending its calf. There is also a treat tucked into the foreground - a rabbit hunkered in the grass, a touch Russell often added to delight his alert viewers. Rabbit in detail at left.
If you would like to purchase prints of the original works in the Sid Richardson Collection of Western Art, the museum's store has available prints of many of the paintings included in the book "Remington & Russell," by Brian W. Dippee, University of Texas Press, 1994. For your purusal we have organized the images into pages containing one or two images per page. When calling the museum store, (817) 332-6554, to order prints please refer to the name of the artist and the name of the painting.
Frederic S. Remington Pages
Charles M. Russell Pages
Please click on images with a red border to enalrge them.
Photos and text courtesy of Sid W. Richardson Foundation and Sid Richardson Collection of Western Art.
For biographical information on artists referenced in this article please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists
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This page was originally published June 19,1997 in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information.
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