Charles M RussellAmerican Painter, 1864-1926
American painter and sculptor. In 1880 he left his upper-class home in St Louis for Montana Territory. He worked briefly on a sheep ranch, spent two years as a hunter's and trapper's assistant and then became a cowboy. During his considerable spare daytime hours he painted, sketched and modelled small animal figures in clay (e.g. Antelope, 1915; Fort Worth, TX, Amon Carter Mus.). Although he painted a few exceptional oils and watercolours prior to 1900, the vast majority of his best work was done in the last two decades of his life. Typically the subject-matter centres around cowboy life (e.g. Wagon Boss, 1909; Tulsa, OK, Gilcrease Inst. Amer. Hist. & A.) and the Plains Indians, for whom he had great respect. The luminous Piegans (1918; Denver, CO, Mus. W. A.), with its depiction of the Plains Indians, is a reminder of the vastness of the American West. Russell's sense of humour and empathy for his subject-matter radiates from his paintings as pleasingly as do the clear colours of the high country. His bronze sculptures (e.g. Buffalo Hunt, 1905; Denver, CO, Mus. W. A.) depict the same dramatic and tension-packed themes as his paintings.