Timeline

The timeline below presents a selection of major events in the life of Charles M. Russell, including the people he knew, the places he frequented, and the institutions where he worked, showed his art, and viewed works by other artists. Russell’s life has been chronicled in detail in John Taliaferro’s 2003 biography of the artist, Charles M. Russell: The Life and Legend of America’s Cowboy Artist; the Carter’s previous Remington-Russell Timeline; and the Carter’s numerous publications on the artist, which include Charles M. Russell: Sculptor (1994); Charles M. Russell, Word Painter: Letters 1887–1926; and Romance Maker: The Watercolors of Charles M. Russell (2011). Unless otherwise noted, the information cited in this chronology is based on these sources.

1860s and '70s

1864

Charles Marion Russell is born on March 19 in St. Louis, Missouri, to Charles Silas Russell (1833–1917) and Mary Mead Russell (1835–1895).

1876

Enrolls in a life-drawing class at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

1879

Begins school at the Burlington Military Academy in Burlington, New Jersey; he stays less than three months.

1880s

1880

Russell travels west to Montana. He is joined by a fellow Missourian named Wallis “Pike” Miller; they travel via railway to Omaha and then transfer to a Union Pacific train bound for San Francisco, getting off in Ogden, Utah. From Utah, Russell and Miller make their way via stagecoach to Helena, Montana, and then on to the Judith River Basin, where Russell works briefly on a sheep ranch. He dislikes the work and is soon fired.jump to citation[x]

Citations

  1. John Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell: The Life and Legend of America’s Cowboy Artist (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1996), 29–36.

1881

In Helena, Russell meets Jake Hoover, a prospector, hunter, and trapper who supplies meat to local ranchers and miners. Russell befriends Hoover and accompanies him on hunting excursions near the Pig Eye Basin. Russell later reflects that Jake Hoover “knew the ways and habits of all the wild creatures in the mountains” and that “riding by Jake’s side through a country like this seemed like a chapter from one of my favorite romances of the Rocky Mountains.”jump to citation[x]

Citations

  1. Charles M. Russell, “A Slice of My Early Life,” in Montana The Magazine of Western History, 8 no. 4 (Autumn, 1958), 14–15.

1882

In spring, Russell returns to Montana with his cousin Jim Fulkerson, who tragically dies of mountain fever two weeks after arriving in Billings. After Fulkerson’s death, Russell joins up with a local cattle outfit, where he works as a “nighthawk,” supervising horses at night.jump to citation[x]

Russell “nighthawks” on the cattle roundup on the Judith Basin. For the next 11 years, he works on Montana roundups in the spring, summer, and fall.jump to citation[x]

Citations

  1. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 47.
  2. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 51.

1885

James Shelton, a Utica, Montana, saloon owner, commissions Russell to paint a picture to hang behind the bar; since Russell does not have a studio, Shelton allows him to paint in the back of a saloon.jump to citation[x]

Russell paints one of his first oil paintings, Breaking Camp. The picture was originally owned by one of Russell’s bosses, Jesse Phelps, a co-owner of the O-H Ranch in the Judith Basin.

Citations

  1. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 59.

1886

Breaking Camp is exhibited in the “Amateur Department” at the St. Louis Exposition and Music Hall Association Third Annual Exhibition.jump to citation[x]

Citations

  1. Catalogue of the Art Collection of the St. Louis Exposition and Music Hall Association, Third Annual Exhibition (Saint Louis, MO: Saint Louis Exposition and Music Hall Association, 1886), 56.

1886-87

Russell winters at the O-H Ranch on the Judith River. Winter conditions are very severe; fierce blizzards in January and February spell disaster for the herds. Later, Russell produces Waiting for a Chinook, which depicts a gaunt steer surrounded by stalking wolves—a reference to this brutal winter. The work helps establish his early reputation.

1887

On May 26, the Helena Weekly Herald publishes a biographical sketch on Russell titled “A Diamond in the Rough,” which notes that “without a master, never having taken a lesson in drawing or painting, with nothing to guide his pencil but the genius within him, C. M. Russell became celebrated in the neighborhood as a painter.”jump to citation[x]

Jesse Phelps, the owner of Breaking Camp, exhibits the picture at Hundley & Pruitt’s general store in Helena, Montana, in July.

Russell exhibits several works at Calkins & Featherly in Helena. The Helena Daily Independent comments on the show, declaring that “Russell has chosen a line of business that, with a little more training in his art, and with so wonderful a conception of the odd and peculiar glimpses of life in the west, places a fortune in his hands.”jump to citation[x]

Citations

  1. “A Diamond in the Rough,” Helena Weekly Herald (May 26, 1887), 7.
  2. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 70 and “Life on the Range,” Helena Daily Independent (July 1, 1887), quoted in Charlie Russell Roundup: Essays on America’s Favorite Cowboy Artist, ed. Brian W. Dippie (Helena, MT: Montana Historical Society Press, 1999), 41.

1888

Paints a bawdy series of four watercolors—Just a Little Sunshine, Just a Little Rain, Just a Little Pleasure, Just a Little Pain—about an unfortunate encounter with a prostitute.

Publishes his illustration Caught in the Act in Harper’s Weekly on May 12.jump to citation[x] Russell may have been inspired to submit the illustration, which depicts a group of Crow Indians butchering a range cow in winter, after seeing Frederic Remington’s illustrations of a Blackfoot reservation, which appeared in Harper’s during the fall and winter of 1877–78.jump to citation[x]

On May 16, travels to the vicinity of the High River in Alberta, Canada, where his friend Phil Weinard has a ranch job. Russell spends about three months in Alberta, and reportedly spends time with local Blood (Kainai) Indians.jump to citation[x]

Arrives back in Helena in September.

Citations

  1. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 76.
  2. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 77.
  3. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 78.

1889

On May 18, publishes a group of illustrations in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper titled Ranch Life in the North-West — Bronco Ponies and Their Uses — How They Are Trained and Broken.jump to citation[x]

In October, Russell’s cousin, Chiles Carr, who recently purchased a homestead claim on 160 acres along the Judith River, is thrown from a horse and killed.jump to citation[x]

Russell’s youngest brother, Wolfert E. Russell, dies of typhoid fever on December 29.jump to citation[x]

Citations

  1. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 80–81.
  2. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 83.
  3. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 83.

1890s

1890

Ben Roberts, a saddlemaker in Helena, publishes a booklet of a dozen Russell illustrations titled Studies in Western Life; Roberts would also issue postcard reproductions of Russell’s small painting, Waiting for a Chinook. The postcards prove widely popular and help establish Russell’s reputation as a painter.

1891

“Pretty Charlie” Green, a bartender at the Brunswick Saloon in Great Falls, hires Russell to paint full-time. Their contract stipulated that Green would pay Russell $75 a month, plus food. In exchange Russell would create paintings for Green, with all proceeds from the sale of these works going to Green. Russell is dissatisfied with the terms of the agreement and soon ends it.jump to citation[x]

Citations

  1. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 86.

1892

Completes a pair of painted wax models, The Poker Game and Not a Chinaman’s Chance, which show racist caricatures of Chinese immigrants. The stereotyped compositions are derived from the western writer Bret Harte’s satirical poem “Plain Language from Truthful James.” Russell later recreates the wax models as the chromolithographs The Poker Game and The End of the Poker Game at Hop Lee’s.

1893

Visits the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where he has several paintings on view in the Montana Pavilion. To travel to the fair, Russell works on a stock train carrying cattle by rail from Montana to slaughterhouses in Chicago.jump to citation[x]

According to Russell, this is his last year tending cattle professionally. In the fall, after working the stock train to Chicago, he leaves cowboying to pursue a career as a painter.

That winter, no longer a professional cowboy, Russell drifts between Helena, Great Falls, and Cascade and holds a small exhibition of his work in Helena. He continues to paint in makeshift studios in the Brunswick Saloon and the Silver Dollar Saloon in Great Falls, as well as in the courtroom in Cascade.jump to citation[x]

Citations

  1. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 88.
  2. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 96.

1894

Provides seven watercolors as illustrations for the western How the Buffalo Lost His Crown, by John Beacom.jump to citation[x]

Citations

  1. John H. Beacom and Charles M. Russell, “How the Buffalo Lost His Crown,” Montana: The Magazine of Western History 29, no. 2 (Spring, 1979): 32–37.

1895

Mary Mead Russell, Russell’s mother, dies in St. Louis on June 18.

In October, he meets 17-year-old Nancy Cooper, who is working in Cascade as a housekeeper for Russell’s friends, Ben and Lela Roberts. Their courtship is short: Russell proposes the following spring.

1896

On September 9, Russell and Nancy Cooper marry.jump to citation[x]

Citations

  1. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 110.

1897

Six illustrations by Russell appear in Emerson Hough’s The Story of the Cowboy, a nonfiction account of western life published in March.

In April, Russell’s first piece of fiction, “Early Days on the Buffalo Range,” is published in the outdoor magazine Recreation.jump to citation[x]

That May, William Bleasdell Cameron, the editor of the outdoor magazine Western Field and Stream (later Field and Stream) discovers Russell’s work while visiting Butte, Montana. Soon after, Cameron visits Russell in Cascade. By the end of the year, the two men have signed a contract for Russell to create paintings and sketches for illustrations in Cameron’s magazine.jump to citation[x]

In late summer, Nancy and Charles move to Great Falls, where they rent a small home on Seventh Avenue North. Shortly after moving, Russell receives a commission for a watercolor from the mayor’s wife—for which he receives $35. This commission is noteworthy because it is the first time that Nancy negotiates the price of Charlie’s work. For the rest of Russell’s life, Nancy plays a pivotal role managing the business side of his art.

Citations

  1. Raphael James Cristy, Charles M. Russell: The Storyteller’s Art (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2004), 36–37.
  2. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 113–115.

1898

The body of Russell’s brother Guy is found along the bank of the Wood River on May 13; he had wandered away from the Baptist Sanitarium in East Alton, Illinois, where he was receiving treatment for epileptic seizures.

In the fall, Russell’s father, Charles Silas Russell, visits Charlie and Nancy in Great Falls.

1899

Russell begins doing business with the local W.T. Ridgley Printing Company. Ridgley publishes a bound volume of 12 reproductions of Russell’s sketches, as well as separate prints for framing. Ridgley also publishes Rhymes from a Round-up Camp, a Russell-illustrated collection of cowboy poems by Russell’s friend Wallace Coburn.jump to citation[x]

Citations

  1. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 126.

1900s

1902

Russell travels to the site of the Battle of Little Bighorn.

On March 1, he writes his friend Young Boy, a Canadian Cree, thanking him for a shield and “pictures”; he adds, “I will paint your picture as soon as I can.”jump to citation[x] Through the years, Russell hires Young Boy for odd jobs, including modeling.

Citations

  1. “Charles M. Russell to Friend Young Boy,” Treasures of Gilcrease: Selections from the Permanent Collection, eds. Anne Morand, Kevin Smith, Daniel C. Swan, and Sarah Erwin (Tulsa, OK: Gilcrease Museum, 2005), 190.

1903

On March 7, Nancy writes Charles M. Kurtz, an assistant in the Department of Art for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition: “I wish to know in what way one goes about it to get a painting in the gallery there at the Fair[.] I write in my husband’s interest and hope you will look at some of his work before you decide whether you have room or not.”jump to citation[x]

In October, the Russells leave for St. Louis to meet with officials of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Hoping to get Russell’s work into the fair’s fine art competition, they bring a selection of watercolors as examples.

On November 14, Russell writes his friends at the Maverick Saloon in Great Falls from St. Louis. His letter includes a watercolor self-portrait in a tuxedo-cut coat and bowler hat. “When it comes to being dressy,” he quips, “I’m all there is to it.”jump to citation[x]

In November,  he exhibits several of his watercolors at the Noonan-Kocian Company’s galleries in St. Louis.

On December 17, from St. Louis, Russell writes his friend William H. Rance:

“I am still here in the smoke of the tall teepees and about the only excitement I get is dodging cars and automobiles but that’s plenty.”jump to citation[x]

The Russells visit New York City for the first time in December; they stay for three months.

Citations

  1. Nancy Russell to Charles M. Kurtz, March 7, 1903, quoted in Taliaferro, Charles Russell, 139.
  2. Charles M. Russell to Maverick Saloon, November 14, 1903, Stark Museum of Art.
  3. Charles M. Russell to Bill Rance, December 17, 1903, Montana Historical Society.

1904

While in New York in January, Russell creates the model for his first bronze, Smoking Up, in the studio of his artist friend John N. Marchand. During the trip, Russell meets the artist Charles Schreyvogel, who gives Russell the name of Riccardo Bertelli, owner of the Roman Bronze Works foundry in Brooklyn. Soon after, Russell is approached by members of the New York Cooperative Society, who pay him for the rights to produce a limited number of bronze casts of Smoking Up. The casts are produced at Roman Bronze Works, and one is later presented to President Theodore Roosevelt.jump to citation[x]

Citations

  1. Rick Stewart, Charles M. Russell: Sculptor (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1994), 35; American Sculpture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, A Catalogue of Work by Artists Born before 1865 (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1999), 443–44.

In March, Russell learns that his painting Pirates of the Plains was accepted into the art exhibition of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Three of his watercolors were also selected to hang in the nearby Montana Pavilion.jump to citation[x]

On April 21, Leslie’s Weekly publishes Russell’s watercolor Navaho Indian Horse Thieves Hotly Pursued by Robbed Mexicans on its cover.

The Russells visit the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis in October.

Citations

  1. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 153.

1905

In January, the Russells visit New York City for the second time. While in New York, Russell completes models for Counting Coup, The Buffalo Hunt, and Scalp Dance (War Dancers), all of which are cast at Roman Bronze Works; Tiffany’s accepts them for sale at $450 each. Nancy handles most of the business arrangements.jump to citation[x]

Russell exhibits Smoking Up at the annual exhibition of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.jump to citation[x]

Citations

  1. Stewart, Charles M. Russell: Sculptor, 37–39.
  2. Catalog of the One Hundredth Annual Exhibition of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (Philadelphia: The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1905), 71.

1906

Russell exhibits two bronzes, Buffalo Hunt and Counting Coup, at the annual exhibition of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia.jump to citation[x]

On January 1, with an investment of $2,477.50, Charlie and Nancy acquire a stake in the Price-Russell Company along with Cornelius E. “Con” Price, an old friend of Charlie’s from his ranching days. The company’s purpose is to manage the Lazy KY Ranch, a 360-acre spread located in the Sweet Grass Hills in Montana five miles below the Canadian border. Price is formally designated the day-to-day operator of the ranch.jump to citation[x]

Nancy, Charlie, and his father travel to Mexico in March to make sketches of Mexican vaqueros. During the trip they visit Mexico City, Cuernavaca, and the ranch of Don Luis Terrazas, a wealthy landowner who owned an estimated half million head of cattle and more than six million acres of land.jump to citation[x]

On their way back from Mexico in April, the Russells spend two weeks in Los Angeles, California, the first of six extended vacations to the state.

During the spring, the Russells return to New York City. While there, Russell sends an illustrated letter to Sid Willis, a friend from Montana, joshing that:

“I intended leaving here several weeks ago but I can’t break away from Rockyfeller [sic] and his bunch every time I try and make a getaway he invites me up to have crackers and milk.”

Citations

  1. Catalog of the One Hundred and First Annual Exhibition of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (Philadelphia: The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1906), 83.
  2. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 165.
  3. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 165.

In October, Russell registers a trademark for his buffalo-skull motif, which he frequently included alongside his signature in his paintings, with the United States Copyright Office.jump to citation[x]

Russell has his appendix removed in November; he does not return to work in his studio until mid-January.

Citations

  1. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 162.

1908

On March 30, the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks initiates Russell into its Great Falls lodge.jump to citation[x]

In May, signs a five-year contract with Brown & Bigelow of Minneapolis, the nation’s largest calendar company; the contract stipulates that the firm will purchase reproduction rights to at least six of Russell’s paintings per year at the price of $500 per picture.jump to citation[x]

Russell journeys to Ronan, Montana, on October 31 on the Flathead Indian reservation, to observe a roundup of roughly three hundred bison. The bison herd, one of the last remaining in North America, had recently been sold to the Canadian government by the rancher Michel Pablo following the announcement of President Roosevelt’s plan to open the Flathead reservation for homesteading.jump to citation[x]

On December 19, Collier’s publishes an essay titled “Wild West Faking” by Emerson Hough, which criticizes the pop-culture hype surrounding the Wild West; the article praises Russell’s work as more honest and authentic than many of his contemporaries, including Frederic Remington: “Russell can draw a cow-puncher, swimming naked in a lake, that any Western man can recognize at a glance.”jump to citation[x]

Citations

  1. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 170.
  2. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 178.
  3. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 171.
  4. Emerson Hough, “Wild West Faking,” Collier’s 42, no. 13 (December 19, 1908), 18–19.

1910s

1910

On March 6, The St. Louis Republic publishes a full-page feature on Russell titled “Is He Remington’s Successor?” The article includes reproductions of four works, including Smoke of a .45.jump to citation[x]

Russell and his partner Cornelius “Con” Price decide to call it quits with the Lazy KY Ranch on July 6; they cash out at a loss.jump to citation[x]

Citations

  1. “Is He Remington’s Successor?” St. Louis Republic (March 6, 1910).
  2. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 165.

1911

The author and explorer Carrie Adell Strahorn publishes Fifteen Thousand Miles by Stage, a memoir of her travels; the book includes 85 illustrations by Russell.

In April, Folsom Galleries in New York hosts a major solo exhibition of Russell’s work titled The West that Has Passed. It is the largest exhibition of his career to date and includes 13 oils, 12 watercolors, and six bronzes, and receives coverage in The New York Times.jump to citation[x] Over the next five years, The West That Has Passed will travel to New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and London.

In June, Russell travels to Helena to interview with the Capitol Commission for a proposed mural behind the speaker’s desk in the House of Representatives of the state capitol building. Montana Secretary of State A.N. Yoder and Yoder’s assistant, the writer Frank Linderman, lobby on Russell’s behalf. Russell receives the commission.jump to citation[x]

That November, Russell submits sketches of two possible designs for the historical mural commission to the Montana State Board of Examiners for approval; one shows an Indian attack on a wagon train, and the other depicts Meriwether Lewis meeting a group of Shoshones. Both proposals are rejected: the subject of Lewis’ meeting is rejected because it took place in Idaho, and the Indian attack is turned down on the grounds that the subject was not suitable as decoration. After discussions with the governor, Edwin L. Norris, Russell settles on the final design: the 1805 meeting between Lewis and Clark and the Salish people at Ross’ Hole, a Montana setting.jump to citation[x]

Citations

  1. “Cowboy Vividly Paints the Passing Life of the Plains,” New York Times (March 19, 1911), 5.
  2. Patricia Mullan Burnham, Kirby Lambert, and Susan R. Near, Montana’s State Capitol: The People’s House (Helena, MT: Montana Historical Society Press, 2002, 63–64.
  3. Burnham, Lambert, and Near, Montana’s State Capitol.

1912

In late May, Russell travels to Ross’ Hole to make landscape studies for the background of his mural commission.jump to citation[x]

Russell delivers his finished mural on July 10, Lewis and Clark Meeting Indians at Ross’ Hole, to Helena.

After completing the capitol commission, Russell travels to the annual powwow on the Blackfeet reservation in Montana, not far from Glacier National Park. During the visit, Russell and his friend, the politician Frank Linderman are the guests of Little Bear, a Cree leader, who invites them to stay in his own tent.jump to citation[x]

The first Calgary Stampede, a large-scale rodeo and festival, is held in Calgary, Alberta, in early September; Russell exhibits 20 paintings on the fairgrounds. While in Calgary as special guests at the Stampede, the Russells meet members of the visiting British royal family.jump to citation[x]

Citations

  1. Talliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 184.
  2. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 186–88.
  3. Brian W. Dippie, “’It was Shure Good’: Charles M. Russell and the Victory Stampede, 1919,” in Return to Calgary, ed. Brian W. Dippie (Great Falls, MT: Charles M. Russell Museum, 2019), 4–6.

1913

At the request of his friend, Frank Linderman, Russell writes Montana Senator Henry L. Myers, on January 11, encouraging him to support Linderman’s proposal for a reservation for a band of Chippewa Indians led by Rocky Boy, a friend of Linderman’s.

“These people have been on the verge of starvation for years and I think no more than square for Uncle Sam, who has opened the west to all foreigners, to give these real Americans enough to live on.”jump to citation[x]

Russell’s references to “foreigners” echoes the nativist rhetoric of Linderman, who fiercely opposed non-Anglo-American immigration.jump to citation[x]

The International Exhibition of Modern Art (commonly known as the Armory Show) opens at the 69th Regiment Armory in New York on February 17. After visiting the exhibition, which is filled with examples of avant-garde abstract art from Europe, Russell comments on the show to an interviewer from the Chicago Evening Post:

“It may be art ... but I can’t savvy it. Now, I may paint a bum horse, but people who know what a horse looks like will know that I tried to paint a horse, at least. Most people can’t savvy all this dreamy stuff.”jump to citation[x]

Citations

  1. Charles M. Russell to Senator Henry L. Myers, January 11, 1913, quoted in Jason E. Pierce, Making the White Man’s West: Whiteness and the Creation of the American West (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2016), 109.
  2. Sherry L. Smith, “Reimagining Indians: Native Americans Through Anglo-Eyes (London: Oxford University Press, 2002), 102.
  3. Chicago Evening Post, March 6, 1914, quoted in Talliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 191–92.

1914

The Russells set sail for London on March 2, where they have sent Russell’s traveling exhibition, The West That Has Passed. Held at Doré Galleries on New Bond Street, the show includes The Wild Horse Hunters.

1915

Frank B. Linderman publishes Indian Why Stories: Sparks from War-Eagle’s Lodge-Fire; it includes a number of illustrations by Russell.jump to citation[x]

Citations

  1. For accounts of Linderman’s life and his relationship to Montana’s Native communities, see Jason E. Pierce, Making the White Man’s West: Whiteness and the Creation of the American West (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2016), 95-120 and Sherry L. Smith, “Reimagining Indians: Native Americans Through Anglo-Eyes (London: Oxford University Press, 2002): 95–118.

1916

Congress passes legislation establishing the Rocky Boy Reservation in Northeastern Montana.

Joe De Yong, an aspiring painter who had worked as a cowhand for western film crews, comes to live with and work for the Russells; he will become Russell’s only protégé.jump to citation[x]

In March, Russell’s exhibition The West That Has Passed returns to Folsom Galleries in New York City. A writer for the Christian Science Monitor praises the works in the exhibition, noting that “every one of the Russell paintings, living records as they are of a wild West, both life and landscape, that is vanishing beneath our very gaze, ought to be permanently placed in public museums or representative collections of American art.”jump to citation[x]

In April, Russell’s exhibition The West That Has Passed travels to Wunderly Galleries in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

On September 9, the Russells embark on a six-week trip to Arizona to see the Grand Canyon and to visit Diné and Hopi country. Russell quips that the desert was “too far betwine [sic] drinks to live in.”jump to citation[x]

The Russells adopt a baby boy in December, whom they name Jack Cooper Russell.

Citations

  1. Dan Gagliasso, “Joe De Yong and Hollywood: Charlie Russell’s Protégé on the Celluloid Frontier,” Montana The Magazine of Western History, 50, no. 3 (Autumn, 2000), 5.
  2. “New York Art Exhibitions and Gallery News,” The Christian Science Monitor, March 11, 1916.
  3. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 202.

1917

Russell’s father, Charles Silas Russell, dies of a stroke in St. Louis on August 31.

1918

Russell donates two paintings for reproduction as posters for the World War I efforts of the Food Administration of Montana: Meat Makes Fighters and Pardners.jump to citation[x]

In November, Nancy leads a fundraising drive for the Women’s Division of the United War Work campaign.jump to citation[x]

Citations

  1. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 198.
  2. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 199.

1919

Amid the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-19, Russell writes James W. Bollinger, a friend from Davenport, Iowa, explaining that he had recently suffered a mild case of the flu and that it “threw a scare into me.” “This old sickness,” he continues, remarking on the devastation of the epidemic in Montana, “has certainly trimmed this camp. Here’s proof enough: I just sold a picture to an undertaker.”jump to citation[x]

Russell falls while horseback riding on July 27, breaking his wrist.

In August, Guy Weadick opens a second running of the Calgary Stampede to celebrate the end of World War I. The Russells are special guests, and Charles hosts a large exhibition of his work on the fairgrounds.jump to citation[x]

On December 14, Russell tells a reporter for the Minneapolis Journal that “Maxfield Parrish, I reckon, is my favorite painter. He’s kind of fancy but he can draw. I like his bright colors. My own colors are kind of stout.”jump to citation[x]

Citations

  1. Charles M. Russell to Jim Bollinger, January 16, 1919, Charles M. Russell Research Collection, Gilcrease Museum.
  2. Emily Crawford Wilson, “Promoting the Stirring! Starling! Scintillating! 1919 ‘Victory’ Stampede,” in Return to Calgary: Charles M. Russell and the 1919 Victory Stampede (Great Falls, MT: Charles M. Russell Museum, 2019), 23–40.
  3. Quoted in Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 258.

1920s

1920

In February, the Russells travel to Southern California, the first of six extended vacations they would make to the state. During their first visit to Los Angeles, they visit the sets of two western films, believed to be William S. Hart’s The Toll Gate and Tom Mix’s The Daredevil.jump to citation[x] Russell writes his friend Berners B. Kelly to lament that “Every street and road is crouded [sic] with haronking [sic] cars.”jump to citation[x]

Citations

  1. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 223 and Brian W. Dippie, “Charlie Russell Meets California,” Montana The Magazine of Western History, 34, no. 4 (Summer 1984): 62–79.
  2. Charles Russell to Berners B. Kelley, February 22, 1920, quoted in Brian W. Dippie, “Charlie Russell Meets California,” Montana: The Magazine of Western History, 34, no. 3 (Summer 1984), 66.

1921

During his second visit to Los Angeles in April, Russell visits Will Rogers on the set of Rogers’ movie A Poor Relation.jump to citation[x]

Citations

  1. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 230.

1922

On March 26, a writer for the Los Angeles Times comments:

“Hitherto we have known Mr. Russell as an interpreter in paint of the life of the Indian and cowboy, but I find him even more interesting in his figurines of animals. He models superbly, and he seems to know the bear, the bison, and the wolf as well as he knows the cowboy and the Indian. More, he understands the psychology of these wild animals quite as intimately as he knows their physical characteristics.”jump to citation[x]

Citations

  1. Anthony Anderson, “Of Art and Artists,” Los Angeles Times, March 26, 1922, 21.

1923

In May, Nancy purchases a lot in Pasadena, California, with the intention of building a house there; the Russells leave California to drive home to Montana.

Russell’s hunting friend James Bollinger writes on May 19:

“My God, Charlie, how many pictures did you sell last winter? Met a fellow on the train who said you were ‘lousy rich now,’ and he ‘used to know you when you were poor.’ Said you had sold thirty pictures in Santa Barbara and Mrs. Russell had doubled the price before the sale of each one.”jump to citation[x]

President Warren G. Harding stops in Butte in June during a tour of the western United States; while there, the Shriners present him with a copy of the Russell bronze Where the Best of Riders Quit.jump to citation[x]

Citations

  1. James W. Bollinger to Charles M. Russell, May 19, 1923, Charles M. Russell Research Collection, Gilcrease Museum.
  2. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 240.

1924

On March 19, Nancy Russell organizes a star-studded party in Los Angeles to celebrate her husband’s 60th birthday. Will Rogers is the master of ceremonies.

On April 12, a writer for the Los Angeles Sunday Times, reviewing an exhibition of Russell’s work at the Biltmore Salon, proclaims that “Russell’s ‘curtains’ and Russell’s ‘sets’ are better today than they ever were, more simply seen, more forcefully rendered, for he has been working steadily for years for this simplicity and force.”jump to citation[x]

Nancy travels to Duluth, Minnesota, to oversee an exhibition of her husband’s work on November 30.jump to citation[x]

Citations

  1. Antony Anderson, “Of Art and Artists,” The Los Angeles Times, Sunday, April 12, 1925.
  2. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 247.

1925

The last solo show held during Russell’s lifetime occurs at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC,  in February and includes 14 paintings and 14 sculptures.jump to citation[x]

On May 20, Russell writes an old Great Falls neighbor, Dick Bodkin, who has relocated to California to ride horses for the movies: “Dick I used to make fun of movie cowboys but since I saw them work my hat’s off ... I seen them ride down hills that I wouldn’t do with a ladder.”jump to citation[x]

The University of Montana awards Russell an honorary Doctor of Laws degree on June 15—the first one in more than 20 years and only the fourth one awarded in its history.jump to citation[x]

In December, Russell’s second collection of stories, More Rawhides, is published.

Citations

  1. Peter H. Hassrick, Charles M. Russell (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1989), 147.
  2. Charles M. Russell to Dick Bodkin, May 20, 1925, Charles M. Russell Research Collection, Gilcrease Museum.
  3. Hassrick, Charles M. Russell, 147.

1926

Nancy moves into Trail’s End, a house they were building in Pasadena, California.

On April 4, Russell writes a friend back in Great Falls about the Hollywood film scene:

“This is the largest movie camp in the world there are more two-gun men here now than the history of the West from north to south ever knew ... if the Old West had been as tough as the movies make it they’d be running buffalo on the Great Falls flats yet.”jump to citation[x]

On June 25, the Russells leave by train for the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where Charlie is to have a thyroidectomy. The operation is a success, but doctors learn that Russell is suffering from a hernia and that his heart and lungs are in poor health.jump to citation[x]

Russell dies at 11:30 p.m. on October 24.

Russell’s funeral takes place in Great Falls on October 27. City businesses and schools are closed, and an honor guard of Elks accompanies Russell’s body from his home to the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation. At Russell’s request, his casket is borne in a horse-drawn hearse. Following a ceremony at the church, the procession makes its way to Highland Cemetery south of the city, where Russell is buried.jump to citation[x]

Citations

  1. Charles M. Russell to Frank Brown, April 4, 1926, Charles M. Russell Research Collection, Gilcrease Museum.
  2. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 254–256.
  3. Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell, 263–64.

1927

An anthology of Russell’s collected stories, Trails Plowed Under, is published with a foreword by Will Rogers.

A memorial exhibition of Russell’s work is held in January at the Art League of Santa Barbara, California.

 

1928

The city of Great Falls takes ownership of Russell’s house and the land around it; Nancy sells the city his studio for $1.

1940

Nancy Russell dies on May 24 after a stroke and kidney failure.

Citations