Charles M. Russell (1864–1926)
Not a Chinaman's Chance, ca. 1893
Wax, wood, cloth, metal, paper, and paint
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, Amon G. Carter Collection
In September 1893 a Great Falls newspaper reported that Russell had completed “a fine piece of artistic work in wax” and was exhibiting it in a club room over a store on Central Avenue. Now known as The Poker Game, the model is among the earliest documented sculptures by the artist. A short time later he must have modeled its counterpart, Not a Chinaman’s Chance, to finish off the story. Unfortunately, the subject of these early works reflected the all-too prevalent prejudices and exclusionary policies then being practiced against the Chinese immigrants in many Montana communities. Both of these works are made of wax and other materials attached to a base covered with wool cut from an old trade blanket. Some portions of the figures are made with colored beeswax; other parts are of plain beeswax painted over with oil colors. The figures on both pieces have suffered some damage in the past from excessive heat, which has partially melted and distorted them.