Charles M. Russell (1864–1926)
California Art Bronze Foundry
A Bronc Twister, 1911
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, Amon G. Carter Collection
The eighth of Russell’s bronzes to be cast, this work was originally copyrighted in 1911 under the title The Weaver. That name referred to the bucking habits of a “particularly exasperating” type of horse, as described by the historian Ramon Adams in his 1936 study, Cowboy Lingo: “His feet never struck the ground in a straight line. He had a peculiar weaving motion which was very disconcerting to a man who had not the firmest of seats in the saddle.” This is precisely what the horse is doing in this bronze. As its back arches in the air, its hooves strike out to the right, while its rear pair go off to the left. Striking the ground—usually with bone-jarring force—it will quickly jump up again, this time putting its front hooves to the left and its rear hooves to the right, weaving the hapless rider to and fro. Despite the aptness of Russell’s title, the bronze was usually displayed under the title A Bronc Twister, perhaps to provide a more direct description for the art-viewing public. This was the first of Russell’s bronzes cast for the Theodore B. Starr Company, a jewelry and silver firm that was a rival to Tiffany’s. The bronze may have been cast for Starr as a “royalty” bronze, where Russell would receive a royalty for each cast sold. In some respects this bronze may be seen as Russell’s answer to Frederic Remington’s Bronco Buster. It is known that Russell was critical of Remington’s bucking horse and rider, saying that true cowboys never used a quirt on a bucking horse. Russell’s sculpture was more loosely modeled and naturalistic than Remington’s smoother, more refined version. Even though Russell’s action-filled sculpture proved to be very popular, fewer than fourteen copies are estimated to have been sold prior to Nancy Russell’s death in May 1940—a far cry from the estimated total of 163 lifetime casts for Remington’s more famous bronze.