Born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1864, Charles Marion Russell came of age at a time when Buffalo Bill was fast becoming a national hero, and when the memories of such other heroes as Lewis and Clark, Zeb Pike and Kit Carson were still recent and vibrant. The St. Louis waterfront was active with boats coming and going and Horace Greeley's slogan "Go West Young Man" was well known in every household. The young Russell's adventurous nature was stoked by his first trip west. Russell's father sent him to Montana immediately following his sixteenth birthday, hoping that his son would be cured of his romantic notions of the West. Instead, "Kid Russell," as he was soon called, became completely absorbed in the local life, working for the next seven years as a horse wrangler and night herder. During this time, he carried his watercolors in his bedroll so that he could paint whenever the opportunity presented itself.
Primarily a self-taught artist, Russell was a keen observer of nature and quickly developed the advanced technical skill and a mature handling of color that would ultimately shape his broad and prolific career. Through his experiences on the open range and a close bond of identity with all the inhabitants of the West, Russell was able to create a pure visual testament to the sanctity of the Old West that had largely disappeared. "He has shaped the Western myth," concludes Peter Hassrick, "provided its standards, and given birth to its popularity. His legacy is America's treasure." (Charles M. Russell, Norman, Oklahoma, 1999, p. 144)
This work is included in the online version of the Charles M. Russell catalogue raisonné.