Charles M. Russell (1864–1926)
Charlie Himself, ca. 1915
Wax, cloth, plaster, metal, string, and paint
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, Amon G. Carter Collection
Like his idol Mark Twain, whose writings he greatly enjoyed, Russell poked gentle fun at everyone, including himself. In 1915 he created this comical self-portrait titled Charlie Himself. for his old friend Bill Rance and his cronies at the Silver Dollar Saloon in Great Falls, Montana. A writer for a local newspaper reported: “The statuette is only thirteen inches in height but ’Russ’ is all there, even to the sash and cigarette held between the second and third finger of his right hand. The expression is perfect; the hat sits just as the artist wears it; the coat and tie appear most natural and the sash hangs true to the artist’s everyday custom.” Russell modeled himself, characteristically long in the torso and slender in the legs, observing the world at large with a wry expression. His broad hatband was fashioned from the lid of a tin can, and his coat and pants were made from a feltlike material that was dipped in hot colored wax to stiffen it. Russell also used this approach with a coarser cloth to simulate leather. His characteristic sash is woven from string, brightly painted to resemble colorful embroidery. Small twists of silver wire represent the rings that adorned his slender fingers. A radiograph of this model shows the discontinuous wire armature, carpet tacks, and straight pins that Russell employed to attach the various parts together.