Peggy Samuels: Biographer and Art Historian, Dies at 84

Historians in the News

Peggy Samuels, an amateur art historian who with her husband, Howard, wrote or edited 10 books on art and United States history, including a revealing biography of Frederic Remington, the renowned painter of the American West, died Thursday at her home in East Falmouth, Mass. She was 84.

The death was announced by her daughter Amy Samuels.

Mrs. Samuels and her husband, who died in 2002, were art collectors who roamed from auctions to estate sales in search of Western works, became art dealers and then turned their passion into a shared writing career. Neither had formal training in art history. But their first book, “The Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West” (Doubleday, 1976), is considered one of the most authoritative texts on the subject.

In 1982, the Samuels wrote “Frederic Remington: A Biography” (Doubleday), a portrait of the artist famed for his images of cowboys, prospectors and Apache warriors. A New York Times review said the book’s “abundant detail supplies important information and subtleties” about Remington while deflating some of the nostalgia for the frontier. “It is the Samuels’ achievement to have re-created that mood for us and to remind us that once upon a time the fascination with a man on horseback was just exactly that,” the review said.

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