The Cowboy Artista: Facts About Charles Marion Russell

American Old West artist Charles Marion Russell, commonly known as C. M. Russell, Charlie Russell, and “Kid” Russell, was born in the United States. He produced over 2,000 paintings, including bronze sculptures, depicting cowboys, Native Americans, and landscapes from Alberta, Canada, and the western United States. The “cowboy artist” label belongs to him.

He was born on March 19, 1864, and died on October 24, 1926. The artist lived an illustrious life over six decades and excelled as a storyteller and author. He developed into a supporter of Native Americans in the west and helped the landless Chippewa in their effort to establish a reservation in Montana. The Rocky Boy Reservation was established by legislation passed by Congress in 1916.

More than 2,000 Russell artworks, artifacts, and memorabilia are kept in the C. M. Russell Museum Complex in Great Falls, Montana. He painted Piegans in 1918, which sold for $5.6 million at an auction in 2005, and Lewis and Clark Meeting the Flathead Indians, a mural that sits in the Helena state house. He received recognition from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in 1955 by being inducted into their Hall of Great Westerners. In this article

We will examine some facts about the life of Charles Marion Russell.

Art Was Always A Part of His Life

Russell had always been interested in the arts. He created clay animal sculptures and drew sketches as a child in Missouri. Russell read for hours about the American frontier since he was interested in it. Russell used to observe the frequent travelers through Missouri who happened to be explorers and fur dealers.

At Hazel Dell Farm in Jerseyville, Illinois, Russell received instruction in horsemanship while riding “Great Britain,” a famed Civil War horse. Col. William H. Fulkerson, who had married into the Russell family, served as Russell’s tutor. Russell dropped out of school at the age of sixteen and moved to Montana to work on a sheep ranch.

In the winter of 1882, Russell visited kinfolk in Missouri and Illinois. James Fulkerson, Russell’s cousin who was nine months younger, agreed to work with Russell on a Montana cattle ranch. But as Russell subsequently recalled, on May 27, 1883, “two weeks after we arrived,” his cousin “died of mountain fever at Billings.”

By the time he was eighteen years old in 1882, Russell was employed as a cattle laborer. Russell’s initial exposure to fame came from a painting inspired by the hard winter of 1886 and 1887. After that, the artist started receiving consistent work. The picture’s title was taken from Russell’s description of the sketch, “Waiting for a Chinook,” and he later produced a more intricate version of the drawing, one of his most well-known pieces.

His Wife Was Crucial To His Fame

He first met Nancy (“Mame”) Cooper in 1895. The following year, they were married. She demonstrated that she had enough ambition and business sense for the two of them. They settled in Great Falls in 1897, and in 1903 they took a last-minute excursion up north. They traveled by rail to “Fort Edmonton,” expecting to see the final frontier of the northern gold rushes, but instead found a contemporary city. Famous Charles Russell artist was able to create a sketch of a dog trainer. He then painted The winter packet (1903), a watercolor, and created Transport to the Northern lights, a wax group (c. 1903–5).

She worked as the business manager for her husband. She convinced him to travel to New York for the first time in 1904, the beginning of a series of excursions. In the same year, he had his first bronze cast, and his paintings were already well-known thanks to postcards and color reproductions.

Russell continued to create there, rising to fame in the community and winning the praise of reviewers worldwide. Nancy is typically credited with making Russell a globally recognized artist because Russell kept to himself much of the time. In addition, Russell gained a lot of fans because of the numerous events she organized for him in London and across the United States.

He Lived With Blood Indians

Scholars think Russell got much of his intimate knowledge of Native American culture from living among the Blood Indians, a branch of the Blackfeet people, starting in 1888.[8] When he returned to the Judith Basin in 1889, he found it teeming with settlers. He worked in more open locations for a few years before settling in the Great Falls, Montana, region in 1892. He labored there to support himself as a full-time artist.

He accompanied cowboy artist Frank Tenney Johnson in 1912 on a drawing trip to the Blackfoot Reservation in Montana, east of Glacier National Park. As a result, a replica of the 1914 painting When The Land Belonged to God was on display for a long time in the Montana Senate.

Russell created the 1913 painting Wild Horse Hunters, which shows riders capturing bands of wild horses, each of which is led by a stallion. He painted his mountain scenes in as many colors as a skilled artist could. Russell’s career as an artist began when urban residents were fascinated by the Wild West, and long-distance cattle drives were still common. He painted Old West scenes later used in Westerns, which were made into movies.

He Died As A Result of an Illness

Charlie’s health started to deteriorate in 1920. To avoid the bitter weather in Montana, the Russells now spent the winters in Pasadena. Finally, at 62, Charlie suffered a heart attack on October 24, 1926. On the day of his death, all the youngsters in Great Falls were excused from class to attend the funeral procession. Many people consider him to be the best artist in the American West.


Charles Marion Russell was considered by many to be the trailblazer and foremost painter in the Wild West. He set the pace for many who were to come after him. In addition, his wife played a pivotal role in furthering his career and helping him become famous. Hopefully, the facts shared in this article have satisfied your curiosity about Charles Russell.

Huynh Nguyen

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