Artist. Born Charles Marion Russell in St Louis, Missouri, the son of Mary Elizabeth Mead and Charles Silas Russell, a manufacturer and real estate developer. Enamored of the west from an early age, his father eventually sent him to a Montana sheep ranch in hopes that romantic ideas would be worked out of him. Instead, he teamed up with a local hunter and became a night wrangler. At 18, he was working as a cattle hand on the O-H Ranch. During the harsh winter of 1886, ranch owners asked about the condition of their herd, Russell returned a sketch of a gaunt, cow stalked by wolves, calling it, 'Waiting for a Chinook.' It was the drawing that launched his art career. One of his sketches appeared in 'Harper's Weekly' in 1888.For almost a decade more, he always had his sketch pad with him while he continued to work as a cowboy. In 1896, he married Nancy Cooper who arranged that he have his own studio at their home in Great Falls, Montana. With his wife serving as his manager, he went to work full time as an artist, and his status as a local celebrity expanded to that of a nationally recognized artist. Works such as 'When Cowboys Get in Trouble' (1899); 'Buffalo Hunt' (1901); 'Counting Coup' (1902); 'The Scout' (1907); and 'Smoke of a .45', (1908) were popular depictions of life ways fast disappearing. Edward, then Prince of Wales, purchased a Russell painting while visiting Calgary, Canada in 1919, which now hangs in Buckingham Palace. The painting sold for what was at the time, the highest price ever paid for the work of a living American artist. Nancy Russell arranged many shows for her husband throughout the United States as well as a foray in London, creating a demand for his work. Over the course of his life, he completed more than 4,000 works of art from sketches to sculptures. He would succumb to heart failure at the age of 62. The year after his death, a collection of his short stories was published under the title 'Trails Plowed Under' (1927), and in 1929, Nancy Russell published a collection of his illustrated personal letters entitled 'Good Medicine: Memories of the Real West.'
Bio by: Iola
Nancy C. Cooper Russell