The Sid Richardson Museum located in downtown Fort Worth one-half block off Sundance Square, the well-known tourist destination, occupies an unassuming storefront space. If you are in downtown Fort Worth for any reason, try to visit this place. The museum is open every day of the week, meaning that you can visit even on Mondays when most museums are closed.
The museum is only two rooms, but they are both of top quality. It won’t take long to see if you don’t have much time, but you can also linger for a while to admire the great collection.
Sid Richardson was a collector of paintings by two of the best American Western artists, Frederic Remington and Charles Marion Russell. He collected their framed works extensively, and they are now on view here, along with a smattering of other similar artists’ works. The museum also includes some leather and sterling silver saddles and similar cowboy wear gifted to Sid Richardson by Amon Carter and his son Amon Carter, Jr. at the 1947 Fort Worth Stock Show. Based on their weight and value alone, almost certainly they were not made for practical use, but rather as investment pieces. Nevertheless, they are something to behold.
Remington, as many know, is best known for his bronze sculptures. Sid Richardson did not collect these, but the museum, at all times, has a large number of very impressive Remington sculptures on loan from other collections. If you want to see some of the best Remingtons in the Dallas area, this is the place to go!
Remington himself was an American aristocrat, born in New York, who attended Yale, but who is credited with bringing the West into the American conscience. Russell in contrast was a cowboy artist who grew up in Montana and knew the indigenous peoples of the West personally. One of Russell’s early paintings, on display at the museum, was made in 1885 when Russell was still primarily a cowboy. He lacked the artists tools, so it is painted on a pine board with house paints. But the raw crudeness is what makes it great. It hung in a bar in Montana.
Remington’s works, in contrast, were largely seen in Collier’s Weekly, Harper’s Weekly, The Cosmopolitan, and similar magazines. They were often copied, leaving many fakes and forgeries around. In part of the exhibit, “Altered States,” three of Remington’s works are explored to determine if they are originals or forgeries. In one, an alteration is clearly made with intent to deceive, but another is still a mystery as to whether Remington actually painted it, after many years of curatorial examination by ace conservationists at the Kimbell Art Museum and others. Under microscopic examination, a different, bulkier paint was used on the signature than in the painting itself. Nevertheless, the intrigue adds interest to the exhibit.
Sid Richardson himself is an interesting character who went broke many times but always snapped back to wealth. The last snap back came after Sid and his nephew, Perry Bass, became partners and struck oil in the Keystone field of West Texas, where of 385 wildcat wells drilled, only 17 came up dry.
You won’t come up dry visiting the art collection he amassed with his wealth. By all means, visit this little-known gem.