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|Charles M. Russell
producer of about 4,000 works in his lifetime (split fairly even between paintings and bronze sculptures)
Charles Marion Russell was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on March 19, 1864. Interested in the West and art from an early age, Charles spent much of his youth dreaming of becoming a cowboy while sketching and drawing scenes of cowboy life. In 1880, just past his 16th birthday, his parents allowed him to go to Montana, and he spent the rest of his life there.
Arriving in the Judith Basin area of Montana, Russell worked briefly tending sheep before spending two years sharing a cabin with Jake Hoover on the South Fork of Judith River. He then became a night wrangler for the Judith Basin Roundup, and spent eleven years working as a cowboy and painting before becoming a full-time artist. He spent the summer of 1888 with Blood Indians in Alberta, Canada, and his experiences from that period formed the basis of many of his works.
Russell married Nancy Cooper in 1896, and the couple moved from Cascade to Great Falls in 1897. Nancy Russell played a major role in making her husband famous, arranging showings for him that often resulted in his being commissioned for major works. He built a studio next to the family home in 1903, and almost all of his most important works were completed there. Charles and Nancy adopted son Jack in 1916.
Charles Marion Russell produced about 4,000 works in his lifetime (split fairly even between paintings and bronze sculptures), all of them depicting Western life in some form or another. He died in Great Falls, Montana, on October 24, 1926. Many of his works are still on display in the Montana State Capitol, and a statue of him represents Montana in Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol.
This page was last updated on 03/19/2017.