Charles M. Russell (1864–1926)
Bucking Horse and Cowgirl, ca. 1925
Ink with transparent and opaque watercolor over graphite underdrawing on paper
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, Amon G. Carter Collection
On April 7, 1925, Russell wrote his old friend Guy Weadick, the founder and chief promoter of the world famous rodeo, the Calgary Stampede, letting him know that he planned to attend. “Guy, I just received your kind invitation and I’ll sure be there,” he enthused. “I am sending you two sketches that you might use on your paper; they could be reduced and used on your programs.” One of those sketches was this spirited depiction of a stylish cowgirl easily handling a bucking horse. In his letter to Weadick, Russell admitted that unlike the refined eastern beauties of an artist like Charles Dana Gibson, “my girls are bow-legged, and riding snakey horses don’t help refine nobody, and corral dust don’t beautify. . . bow legs on a lady don’t look good, but they fit a horse and that’s the kind Calgary wants.” This sketch proves that Russell was perfectly capable of depicting a woman on horseback as well as any other artist of his day.