HOCKADAY MUSEUM of ART
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Young Boy by C.M. Russell 
 Hockaday Museum Permanent Collection
Charles Marion Russell (1864 - 1926)
Charles M. Russell was born in St. Louis in 1864 and by sixteen was living the life of a cowboy in Montana Territory. Russell first gained prominence with an image capturing the severe winter of 1886 when thousands of cattle perished on the northern plain. Waiting for a Chinook became one of his most important artistic statements. This exquisite little watercolor was shown all around Helena and soon became famous throughout the Territory. His days as a wrangler ended when Nancy Cooper became his bride in 1896. Nancy was Russell's business manager, freeing him to concentrate on his art. Russell's success gave him the means to build a new home and studio in Great Falls. He and Nancy began spending some of their summers in Glacier. In 1906 they built the Bull Head Lodge after Charlie's buffalo skull trademark. The cabin was accessible only by boat and was located 100 feet from the water's edge, and became one of the stopovers for dudes led through the Park. Russell's charm provided great entertainment for the tourists. Nancy -- regarding each one as a potential client for future paintings and bronzes -- made certain everyone signed the guest book. He began displaying his work in the third-story lobby of the newly-built Lewis Hotel at the northern end of Lake McDonald. In 1926, one of the most destructive fires in the history of Glacier swept through the Park. A mile of forest burned along the edge of Lake McDonald but stopped short of Bull Head Lodge where Russell was spending his last summer. On October 24, Charlie Russell died of a heart attack at his home in Great Falls.