C.M. Russell was a 19th century artist born in Missouri, U.S.A in 1864 who is famous for his paintings of the Old American West. In early life, Russell worked as a cowboy in Montana, and he was always very interested in the Wild West and its history and the explorers such as Lewis and Clark who came through Montana on their expeditions. Russell married in 1896 and he and his wife Nancy moved to Great Falls, where he remained for the rest of his life.
Charlie Russell was one of the most popular cowboy and western artists of this genre and he completed over 4,000 paintings in his lifetime.
It was Russell’s wife Nancy who was the more skilled at marketing his work, and she arranged many exhibitions of his painting, not only throughout America but also in London, where there was a substantial following for both his paintings and sculptures. In America, movie stars such as Douglas Fairbanks were collectors of Russell’s paintings and by the time of his death in 1926 he was a celebrated figure, with local schools being named after him.
Charles Russell’s paintings are displayed in the Amon Carter Museum and the Sid Richardson Museum, both in Fort Worth, the RW Norton Art Gallery in Shreveport, Louisiana, which also hold works by the other great western artist Frederic Remington, and in the CM Russell Museum in Great Falls.
Russell’s most famous works are In Without Knocking, painted in 1904, The Bucker 1904, and Laughing Kills Lonesome, 1925. Of his many other notable works, When the Plains Were His, 1906, Custer’s Last Stand, 1908, and When Blackfeet and Sioux Meet, 1908, are well known.
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