Frederic Sackrider Remington was born in Canton, New York, in 1861 to Seth Pierrepont Remington and Clarissa "Clara" Bascom Sackrider.  His paternal family owned hardware stores and emigrated from Alsace-Lorraine in the early 18th century. His maternal family of the Bascom line was of French Basque ancestry, coming to America in the early 1600s and founding Windsor, Connecticut. Frederic Remington was related by family bloodlines to Indian portrait artist George Catlin and cowboy sculptor Earl W. Bascom. He was also a cousin to Eliphalet Remington, founder of the Remington Arms Company and through the Warner side of his family, Remington was related to General George Washington, America's first president.
When Remington was eleven and he attended Vermont Episcopal Institute, a church-run military school, where his father hoped discipline would rein in his son's lack of focus and perhaps lead to a military career. He then went on to Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, where he took one drawing class in1878; and also the Art Students League of New York, in 1886.
He left Yale in 1879 to tend to his ailing father, who had tuberculosis. His father died a year later, at age fifty. In 1880, at nineteen, he made his first trip west, going to Montana, hoping to get in to the cattle business, or a mining operation, but didn't have enough capital for either. In 1883, Remington went to rural Kansas, south of the city of Peabody near the tiny community of Plum Grove, to try his hand at the booming sheep ranching and wool trade. He invested his entire inheritance but found ranching to be a rough, boring, isolated occupation which deprived him of the finer things of Eastern life, and the real ranchers thought of him as lazy. In 1884, he sold his land and returned home.
After acquiring more capital from his mother, he returned to Kansas City to start a hardware business, but due to an alleged swindle, it failed, and he reinvested his remaining money as a silent, half-owner of a saloon. He went home to marry long time girlfriend, Eva Caten, in 1884 and they returned to Kansas City immediately. She was unhappy with his saloon life and was unimpressed by the sketches of saloon inhabitants that Remington regularly showed her which were still cartoonish and amateur. When his real occupation became known, she left him and returned to Ogdensburg. With his wife gone and with business doing badly, Remington started to sketch and paint in earnest, and bartered his sketches for essentials. He soon had enough success selling his paintings to locals to see art as a real profession. His first full-page cover under his own name appeared in Harper's Weekly on January 9, 1886, when he was twenty-five. With financial backing from his Uncle Bill, Remington was able to pursue his art career and support his wife.
He went on to do work for Harper's Weekly and Outing Magazine, producing works in ink and wash, and watercolor. In 1887, Remington received a commission to do eighty-three illustrations for a book by Theodore Roosevelt, Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail, to be serialized in The Century Magazine before publication.
In 1898, he achieved the public honor of having two paintings used for reproduction on U. S. Postal stamps. In 1900, as an economy move, Harper's dropped Remington as their star artist. By 1901, Collier's was buying Remington's illustrations on a steady basis. Remington's Explorers series, depicting older historical events in western U.S. history, did not fare well with the public or the critics. The financial panic of 1907 caused a slow down in his sales and in 1908, fantasy artists, such as Maxfield Parrish, became popular with the public and with commercial sponsors. Remington tried to sell his home in New Rochelle to get further away from urbanization. One night he made a bonfire in his yard and burned dozens of his oil paintings which had been used for magazine illustration (worth millions of dollars today), making an emphatic statement that he was done with illustration forever. He wrote, "there is nothing left but my landscape studies".
Frederic Remington died after an emergency appendectomy led to peritonitis on December 26, 1909. His extreme obesity (weight nearly 300 pounds) had complicated the anesthesia and the surgery, and chronic appendicitis was cited in the post-mortem examination as an underlying factor in his death. He is buried in the Evergreen Cemetery, Canton, St. Lawrence County, New York with his wife Eva.
In the 1940's Remington was honored in the Famous Americans Series postal Issues of 1940 with his portrait on a 10 cent stamp. He was an inductee of the New Rochelle Walk of Fame, Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame inductee 1978, in 2009 he had a Post Office building named after him in Ogdensburg, New York, and was a Texas Trail of Fame, inductee.
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