Briefly Noted: Charles M. Russell: Photographing the Legend

“Charles Marion Russell (1864–1926) was many things: consummate Westerner, historian, advocate of the Northern Plains Indians, cowboy, writer, outdoorsman, philosopher, environmentalist, conservationist, and not least, artist.” – Charles M. Russell Museum

Charles M. Russell: Photographing the Legend, by Larry Len Peterson, University of Oklahoma Press (March 20, 2014), 329 pages, photographs

charlierussellFrom the Publisher: Almost as familiar as the images of the American West he painted and sculpted is the figure of Charles M. Russell himself. Standing or mounted, in boots and wide-brimmed hat, sash knotted at his waist, gaze steady under a hank of unruly hair: he is the one and only “Cowboy Artist.” What is not so well known is the story that unfolds in the myriad photographs of Russell, pictures that document a remarkable life while also reflecting the evolution of photography and the depiction of the American West at the turn of the twentieth century. This biography makes use of hundreds of images of Russell, many never before published, to explore the role of photography in shaping the artist’s public image and the making and selling of his art. More than that, the book shows how the Cowboy Artist personified what he portrayed.

About the Author: “A two-time Western Heritage Award winner for best art book of the year and recipient of the Scriver Award, Larry Len Peterson is an acknowledged expert on art and art history of the American West. His publications include Charles M. Russell, Legacy (1999); A Most Desperate Situation (2000, 2001); Philip R. Goodwin: America.” – Mountain Press Publishing

If you’re a fan of Charles M. Russell, you’ll find a large selection of his works in the Montana Historical Society Museum in Helena, Montana. According to the society, “This collection (numbering over 200 pieces—24 major oils, 33 major watercolors, 40 pen and inks, 15 original models, 60 bronzes, and 34 illustrated letters) is one of the most significant collections of Russell art anywhere. ” Click here for information about the collection and the society.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of contemporary fantasy novels, including three set in Montana: “The Seeker,” “The Sun Singer,” and “Sarabande.”