Charles M. Russell (1864–1926)
A Moment of Great Peril in a Cowboy's Career, ca. 1904
Transparent and opaque watercolor over graphite underdrawing on paper
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, Amon G. Carter Collection
This watercolor, executed in a range of opaque black, gray, and white pigments, appeared as an illustration on the cover of Leslie’s Weekly for March 24, 1904. The subject shows a longhorn charging a cowboy on his horse. The cowboy has dropped the lariat he was about to throw to catch the errant animal; as his horse rears in a desperate effort to avoid the animal’s dangerous horns, the cowboy reaches for his gun. In his typical manner, Russell leaves the outcome of this story to the viewer’s imagination. In the same issue of the magazine, an article on Russell by Sumner Matteson traced the artist’s early development and subsequent rise to renown. ”Russell’s figures and action are scarcely equaled, while his somber colorings of the ranges and vast reaches, and the endless desolation of the barren foothills, make him the equal, if not the superior of the few really good workers in this most deserving field,” Matteson enthused. “He has a large heart and spreads it upon the canvas in a way that makes his pictures breathe the incense of the prairie and glow with tints that only a true Westerner can appreciate.”