The Art of Western Artist Charles M. Russell

Actors William S. Hart, Douglas Fairbanks, and Will Rogers were avid collectors of Russell art. By the time of his death, the artist had produced over 4,000 works of art, including his popular bronze sculptures.

Pablo’s Buffalo Hunt, c. 1909, watercolor

Red Man of the Plains, 1901, watercolor

Kelly’s Duel with Sioux Indians, 1922, pen and Ink

Dubbed “America’s Cowboy Artist,” Charles M. Russell (1864 -1926) painted and sculpted images of the western frontier as he witnessed them.

His popular paintings, watercolors, and sketches and are widely recognized as capturing the spirit of the vanished and romantic era of American history, documenting the old west and the daily life of fur traders, cowboys, and Native Americans. Over 30 pieces of Russell’s art and the work of other western artists, including O.C. Seltzer and Edward Borein, will be on view at the Frye Art Museum beginning November 21, 1998. The exhibition is named “Saga of the West: Selections from the Charles M. Russell Museum” and features selections from the C. M. Russell Museum.

Russell was raised in Missouri and began sketching at age 16, when he left home for the Montana Territory. He spent a decade working as a ranch hand and cowboy. In his spare time he sketched what he saw. At nineteen, Russell completed his earliest watercolor.

Russell continued to paint, sketch, and sculpt scenes of the west at a time when few others were focused on the subject. Many of his works reflect the culture of Native Americans. After 1919, he spent winters in California, where a strong following developed among the movie colony.


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