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Friends or Foes? (The Scout); c. 1902–5; Oil on canvas; Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts
After 1900, Remington's work changed distinctly, growing more introspective in subject matter and more ambitious in technique. This shift can be seen in the color schemes he used in the moonlit nocturnes, and it can be partially attributed to historical circumstances.

After spending much of his career glorifying military life, he faced the realities of armed conflict as a correspondent covering the Spanish-American War. Furthermore, by 1900 his subjects were increasingly anachronistic. From Santa Fe, he wrote to his wife, "Shall never come west again—It is all brick buildings—derby hats and blue overhauls—it spoils my illusions—and they are my capital."

The lone figure of Friends or Foes? could be seen as an apt analogy for a painter who imagined himself to be an historian. Looking across the distance of time, Remington strained to see the past clearly, increasingly worried about how he would be perceived by posterity.

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