About This Artwork

Frederic Remington
American, 1861–1909

The Advance-Guard, or The Military Sacrifice (The Ambush), 1890

Oil on canvas
87.3 x 123.1 cm (34 3/8 x 48 1/2 in.)
Signed, lower left: "Frederic Remington/1890"

George F. Harding Collection, 1982.802

Born in Canton, New York, and later a student at the Yale School of Art in New Haven, Connecticut, and the Art Students League in New York City, Frederic Remington gained widespread distinction for his heroic and mythic visions of life in the American West. Remington lived in Montana and Kansas, working as a ranch hand in the early 1880s. He traveled across the West and Southwest, where he observed Native American customs, ranch life, and soldiers on horseback patrolling the frontier. Capturing the individuality and self-determination of these populations with a superb sense of drama, Remington romanticized the vanishing life of the Old West in bronze sculptures, magazine illustrations, etchings, and oil paintings. During the late 1880s, Remington worked as an illustrator for Harper’s Weekly and accompanied the United States Sixth Cavalry as it pursued the Sioux, Native Americans of the northern plains, across the canyons of the Badlands. To protect the regiment from ambush, commanders sent single cavalrymen far ahead to draw their adversaries’ fire. The Advance Guard depicts the moment when the regiment’s forward-most sentinel is shot by a Sioux warrior hidden in the rocky ravine. Remington meticulously represented the stricken soldier in the brightly lit foreground, with his companions retreating hastily to warn the regiment of the imminent danger.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

St. Louis, 1892

New York, American Art Galleries, 1893

Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings and Bronzes by Frederic Remington Lent by the George F. Harding Museum, June 21-October 10, 1969.

Mt. Vernon, Ill., Mitchell Museum, Harding Foundation, Medieval and Renaissance Armor and Weapons, Remington Paintings, Bronzes and Drawings, December 5, 1981-January 31, 1982, cat. no. 405.

Art Institute of Chicago, Frederic Remington, September 1-October 11, 1982, no cat. published.

Art Institute of Chicago, Window on the West: Chicago and the Art of the New Frontier 1890-1940, June 28-October 13, 2003.

Publication History

New York Times (January 9, 1893)

New York Daily Tribune (January 14, 1893), p. 7, col. 5.

New York Sun (January 14, 1893), p. 2, col. 7.

New York Times (January 14, 1893), p. 8, col. 4

Frederic Remington, “The Advance Guard, or The Military Sacrifice,” Harper’s Weekly (September 16, 1893), p. 886, ill., pp. 888-889.

Remington, 1895, ill. p. 55

Earle 1924, p. 265

Downey, 1941, ill. opp. p. 234 as The Ambush

Frederic Remington, Pony. Tracks (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1961), ill.

Harold McCracken, The Frederic Remington Book: A Pictorial History of the West, Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Company, Inc. 1966), no. 212.

Peggy and Harold Samuels, ed. The Collected Writings of Frederic Remington (Doubleday, 1979), p. 110, ill.

Art Institute of Chicago, Annual Report, 1982-83 (Chicago, 1983), fig. 20, p. 26, ill.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Record of Sharing with Chicago’s Masterpiece (Chicago, 1983), p. 8, ill.

Art Institute of Chicago, Master Paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago (Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown, 1988), p. 97, ill.

Art Institute of Chicago, Annual Report 1987-88 (Chicago, 1988), fig. 18, p. 39, ill.

Allen P. and Marilyn D. Splete, Frederic Remington, Selected Letters (New York: Abbeville Press, 1988), pp. 119, 121.

Peter H. Hassrick and Melissa J. Webster, Frederic Remington: A Catalogue Raisonne of Paintings, Watercolors and Drawings, Volume I (Buffalo Bill Historical Center / University of Washington Press, 1996), p. 369, no. 1207.

Judith A. Barter, Window on the West: Chicago and the Art of the New Frontier 1890-1940 (Art Institute of Chicago, 2003), chap. 3, fig. 2, p. 82, 168.

Peter H. Hassrick, et al. Frederick Remington Catalogue Raisonne, cat. 01207, as "The Advance-Guard, or the Military Sacrifice" (http://remington.centerofthewest.org).

"Paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago, Highlights of the Collection," (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2017) p. 93.

Ownership History

Frederic Remington, 1890; E.H. Wales, 1893. George F. Harding Museum, Chicago, by 1982; given to the Art Institute, 1982.

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