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100 Highlights
of the MFAH
Take a tour through some of the most significant objects in the MFAH collections. On these pages, you can browse 100 highlights from collections throughout the institution. Then visit the Museum in person to discover your own favorites.
American, 1861 - 1909
Fight for the Waterhole
Oil on canvas

27 1/4 x 40 1/8 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

The Hogg Brothers Collection, gift of Miss Ima Hogg

Arts of North America

One of Frederic Remington’s masterpieces, this painting depicts cowboys hiding in a waterhole, their source of survival in the arid desert and of protection from the pursuing Plains Indians. The manipulated perspective gives the scene a panoramic quality and introduces a large shadow to convey the idea of “passing”—the ever-present threat of death looming in the Western territories during the Indian Wars, as well as the passing of the West itself.

As an illustrator, painter, sculptor, and writer, Remington created a popular image of the American West as a heroic battleground for U.S. westward expansion. His knowledge of the West grew from his frequent trips there to make sketches, take photographs, and buy the artifacts of Native American cultures and Western frontier life. Back in his studio near New York City, he chronicled vanquished Native American cultures and created images that popularized the cowboy as a national folk hero.

Fight for the Waterhole was published in 1903 in Collier’s Weekly as part of Remington's four-year contract with the magazine to reproduce one painting each month. This alliance encouraged Remington to experiment with his technique, and as seen here, the results included looser brushwork, refined compositions, a bolder palette, and the development of psychological qualities in his art.