Charles Marion Russell, noted American cowboy artist, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on March 19, 1864. At the age of 16 he went to Montana to fulfill his dream of being a cowboy. While on the range, he began sketching to amuse his companions. As his natural talent matured, his watercolors and oils became popular. Gradually, painting became his life's work. He never became a skillful cowhand, despite his 16 years of effort.
In 1896, after marrying Nancy Cooper, who became his business manager, he settled down and built a studio in Great Falls, Montana. His works portrayed Indians, cattle round-ups, and the sort of frontier scenes that people in eastern cities found fascinating. His paintings, first sold in saloons and general stores, soon were used as illustrations in newspapers and began to appear in art galleries in New York, Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles. He became famous. Several of his paintings were exhibited at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904 and at the London Doré Galleries in 1914. By 1920 a painting of Russell's could sell for $10,000.00. Russell was also a superb sculptor. By 1904 his small wax figures of mounted cowboys, Indians, and animals were being cast in bronze and sold by Tiffany and Co. in New York.
Russell died on October 24, 1926, in Great Falls, Montana.