A Misdeal

Frederic Remington | 1861 – 1909
Oil on canvas | ca.1897
Private Collection

In 1897 Remington collaborated with R. H. Russell and Company to produce his first folio size book featuring his art titled simply Drawings. While the book did feature sketches he had made of cavalry officers and his usual Western “types” along with ink wash drawings, it also reproduced many of the artist’s oil paintings, and even the frontispiece featured one of his recent works in bronze, The Wounded Bunkie. A Misdeal was included in the book, and was also sold as a print. It was not made as an illustration for a story, but as a simple way of conjuring up an open-ended narrative of a card game gone wrong. What exactly has happened is not clear. One might assume that the man standing at center is the one who was cheated and has taken retribution, but he doesn’t seem to be holding a weapon, leaving any clear storyline in question. Throughout most of the twentieth century this painting was the property of actor Douglas Fairbanks and later producer Hal Wallis. This pre-cinematic scene served as a prototype for so many bar room brawls featured repeatedly in Western movies.