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Charles Russell

Known as the “Cowboy Artist,” Charles Marion Russell was born in suburban Saint Louis, Missouri. He was a self-taught artist and traveled to Montana at the age of sixteen to work on a sheep ranch. This was the first of several jobs that immersed Russell in cowboy and Native American life. He worked for eleven years as a night wrangler, which allowed him to make art during the day. His first major oil piece, Breaking Camp was completed in 1885. Beginning in 1888, Russell spent a period of time living with the Blood Indians, a branch of the Blackfeet nation. In 1904, he cast the bronze sculpture Smoking Up and it became an immediate success. During his lifetime, Russell created approximately 4,000 works of art that portrayed events from the point of view of the Native American people.

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