Saturday, May 24, 2014

More French Remingtons

May 24, 2014
   On Thursday Kathy and I walked from T's apartment to the Mount Vernon area of Baltimore. Yes, named for George Washington. The monument for the father of our country is currently under rennovation:

The Baltimore Washington Monument in Baltimore

   The area is also very rich in old buildings:

A Baltimore church in the Mount Vernon area, built circa 1876

We visited two museums in the area. One was the Maryland Historical Society Museum where they had a very good Civil War show and then we walked over to the Walters Museum where I discovered a couple of very cool gems on the fourth or fifth floor:

"Italian Brigands Surprised by Papal Troops," by Emile-Jean-Horace Vernet, 1831

The text says Italy was plagued by stagecoach robberies in the frontier regions and this painting portrays a Papal posse rounding up some outlaws in the process of robbing the stage and carrying off  bootie and booty. The dude on horseback, center, is a dead ringer for Custer, and the brigand he is about to shoot in the head is almost a perfect Joaquin Murrietta. Great action and good horse flesh and this predates Freddy Remington by fifty years!

It gets better: around the corner from this painting is another French action masterpiece:

Another French guy predating Kid Colt Comics by a century (sorry, didn't write down his name or the date). Noticing the muzzle flashes, something I thought was pioneered with Kid Colt, Sgt Rock, and the 1950s comics, but no, here it is in the early 1800s. The modern day acolyte of this effect is Andy Thomas who seems to love the muzzle flash and uses it in many of his paintings of Billy the Kid and Mickey Free, etc.. Charlie Russell used it sparingly, and I don't recall any Remingtons utilizing the muzzle flash. Can you?

Anyway, I'm always amazed at how there is not much new under the sun, but these two gems take the cake in that department, proving for the umpeenth time Chaucer's line, "Out of old fields comes all the new corn."

"some [bullets] come with a sharp 'click', like striking a cabbage leaf with a whip lash, others come with a screech, very much such as you would get by treading on a cat's tail."
—Wilbur Fisk, 2nd Vermont infantry, at Cold Harbor, Virginia, June, 1864