Charles Marion Russell

(1864-1926)

Charles Marion Russell, largely self-taught, was one of America's best known and popular "Cowboy Artist" who painted Western scenes. He was an authentic cowboy and wrangler who spent 6 months living with the Blood Indians of the Blackfoot Nation. While living with the Indians he gained deep insight into their lifestyle, which was later reflected in his paintings. Russell's first illustration appeared in Harper's in 1888, and he continued to contribute writing and artwork to several other magazines including McClure's and Leslie's. In 1890 Russell published a portfolio with 12 paintings entitled "Studies of Western Life". At this same time he began displaying his paintings in frontier saloons in the Montana territory. Russell married Nancy Cooper in 1896 and she became a driving force behind his artistic career, encouraging him to write and paint in regular shifts. Russell's paintings were action packed, adventurous scenes often with a humorous narrative. He depicted cowboys at camp or in town, confrontations between cowboys and Indians and gunfights between horse thieves and lawmen. Russell fist visited New York City in 1903 and continued to return annually, having his first solo show there in 1911. He had 28 one man shows throughout his career. Russell began to cast bronze sculptures of his Western subjects in 1904, based on the clay and wax models he made as studies for his paintings. Russell had a prolific and popular career, producing over 2,500 works of all media which were often reproduced for calendars.