art of the legend of Charles M.
Russell—beyond the authentic
depictions of the West, his colorful cast
of cowboy characters and reverent treatment of
Native American subjects—is the artist’s distinct
physical appearance. That thoughtful gaze. The
prominent jawline and furrowed brow. His lips
in a slight frown, more serious than angry. His
hairstyle, undercut on the sides and parted left
of center with hair swooping down around his
forehead, topped by a hat tilted back on his
head. And, of course, the iconic sash around his
waist and dangling at his side.
His appearance is just as much of the legend
as the art. And here’s a test to prove it: quick,
what does Charles Schreyvogel look like? Or
Albert Bierstadt? Describe Frederic Remington
without using the word “portly” or Thomas
Moran without using the word “beard.” You
would be forgiven for drawing a blank when
asked to pick out Maynard Dixon and William
Herbert “Buck” Dunton from a lineup of tall,
lanky men with mustaches.
But Russell was different. He had a look. It
was his own, and it made him identifiable, in
his time and still today.
With a century between
them, artists Andy Thomas
and Charles M. Russell
are linked through time
by The Russell in Great
By Michael Clawson
Charles M. Russell in his log cabin studio in Great Falls, Montana,
working on the painting When the Land Belonged to God. Stark
Andy Thomas in his Missouri studio.