In 1888, an illustration in Century Magazine titled "The Dissolute Cow-Punchers" was Frederic Remington's first introduction of a group of four wildly excited and unruly cowboys. A similar piece entitled "Cowboys Coming to Town for Christmas" appeared in Harper's Weekly in 1889, along with a short article by Remington about wild disposition of cowboys. With a quick comparison, it is easy to see why these two earlier pieces are pointed at as the inspiration for the later bronzes entitled "Coming Through the Rye", like the fantastic example presented here. Like the two previous works, this magnificent sculpture depicts four cowboys on horseback in a state of great jubilation. The expressions of each cowboy show them shouting and hollering with their revolvers unholstered and in hand. The extreme detail of the piece allows for one to imagine them excitedly urging their horses to carry them faster to the nearest town. It is easy to envision them firing their revolvers in the air to announce their arrival, before trading their hard earned money for some rye whiskey. Originally, Remington designed this sculpture with only five of the horses combined sixteen feet on the ground but eventually settled for six feet on the ground because doing so "made it much better with the foot on the ground." The brilliance of the artist is on display with the far left horse being completely suspended in the air through its attachment to the horse beside it. The piece is covered in fantastic details, from the bronze ribbon rider's crops, to the bronze wire tack on the horses, to the freely spinning rowels on the spurs of the cowboys, it is truly incredible. Frederic Remington's signature is on top of the base on the front right corner, and the side of the right rear corner of the base is very discreetly stamped "ROMAN BRONZE WORKS N.Y." The signature appears very similar to those found on the original casts; however, it lacks the typical copyright marking. The bottom of the base appears to be hand marked at the time of the cast, "REPRODUCTION 1901." Included correspondence from January and February 1902 from Franklin P. Wherry (relative of the consignor) addressed to Richard Rathbun of the U.S. National Museum (now the Smithsonian) discuss Wherry obtaining a copy of "Coming Through the Rye" in early 1902 from Remington in relation to Wherry serving on the art committee for the 1904 World's Fair Louisiana Purchase Exposition. An enlarged "heroic sized" plaster copy of "Coming Through the Rye" retitled "Off the Trail" was approved by Remington for display at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis and was also displayed in Portland, Oregon, the following year as "Shooting up the Town." The height is 25 inches measured to the top of the tallest rider's hat or 28 5/8 inches tall to the muzzle of the highest revolver. The base is 27 by 18 inches. The weight is approximately 185 lbs. Most likely a posthumous, unauthorized cast done by Roman Bronze Works.
Exceptionally fine, showing mostly a very attractive antique bronze patina with some light oxidation in low areas that is typical with age. The details and markings remain crisp. A piece that would surely be welcome among Colt Single Action, Winchester lever action, or American West collections of the highest quality!
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