It could be a Remington

Tue, 10/20/2009 - 4:54pm
By: Ben Nelms

It could be a Remington Omega Lamont

Omega Lamont has long been interested in antiques and old paintings. And after scrutinizing a painting she found at an antique shop in Brooks in 2005, Lamont has come to believe the painting of Geronimo is an authentic Frederic Remington.

“I knew it was by a good artist. It was very captivating,” Lamont said of the painting that was part of an estate sale that had come from California. “The shop had good art that was being snatched up fast.”

For Lamont, a Fayetteville resident who works at Wachovia Bank, antiques and painting are a passion. Speaking about her find, Lamont sat at her dining room table, surrounded by books on Remington and his paintings and sculptures.

“At first I didn’t consider it being a Remington, but scrutinizing the minor details in the painting I discovered some similarities that are consistent with some of his paintings,” Lamont explained.

The painting shows Geronimo sitting at a campfire smoking a cigarette. And yes, Geronimo did smoke cigarettes, Lamont said. Looking at the painting, Lamont explained Remington’s frequent use of specific incidental objects and the placement of those objects in many of his paintings.

Among those are the pot placed close to the campfire and the Y-shaped stick often used with a spit for cooking meat adjacent to the fire. Remington was the only Old West painter to use those items repeatedly, Lamont explained. Another hint was the hazy blue-gray background colors that are similar to those used in some of this other paintings.

The lifelike quality of the painting is characteristic of Remington’s paintings later in his life rather than those earlier in his career, Lamont said.

Lamont believes the Geronimo painting was re-worked by Remington from an earlier watercolor into a mixed media nocturne. Adding to her thought, Lamont said that Remington progressed as an artist over the years, having been sent to art school by Harper’s Weekly, who printed many of his paintings. Unlike many of his famous early works, this rendering of Geronimo is quite lifelike. This again, is more characteristic of his later works, she said.

Along with her scrutiny of the painting, Lamont is also a student of Remington’s history and his career as it progressed over time. As for Remington and his westward travels, Lamont said Harper’s Weekly sent Remington to cover Geronimo’s uprising. A large man, Remington found the trek through the desert an obstacle and, consequently, never met the famed Apache, Lamont said.

But that does not mean he did not paint him, Lamont believes, noting that Remington also painted Red Cloud without ever meeting him and he painted Wounded Knee based on what he was told happened there.

Remington was able glean a good amount of information about some of his subjects from Gen. Nelson Miles, to whom Geronimo had surrendered. And Miles figured prominently in a number of Remington’s paintings after that, Lamont said.

Lamont said Remington was thorough with the information he received, being sure to include specific details into his works such as an accurate accounting for tribal dress and details like the fact that Geronimo was known to sit by a fire and smoke cigarettes.

Lamont also explained that not being signed does not mean the painting is not an authentic Remington. Per his instructions, Harper’s always sent Remington’s paintings back to him and he was known to re-work some of them. And that leads to what is perhaps the final clue. Remington did a series of 15 paintings of Geronimo. One of those is still missing today, Lamont said.

So Lamont’s search for the painting’s authenticity continues. Immersed in history and in the painting techniques used by Remington and other Old West artists, Lamont is in contact with the Arizona Historical Society and other Remington experts to verify the authenticity of the painting she found in a little antique shop in Brooks. And given her penchant for research she will likely succeed in her quest.

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