Charles Marion Russell (American, 1864-1926) Scouting Party 14 1/2 x 19 1/2in

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Lot 20
Charles Marion Russell
(American, 1864-1926)
Scouting Party 14 1/2 x 19 1/2in

Sold for US$ 293,000 inc. premium

American Art

18 Nov 2015, 14:00 EST

New York

Charles Marion Russell (American, 1864-1926)
Scouting Party
signed and dated 'C.M. Russell © 1919' and inscribed with skull insignia (lower left)
watercolor, gouache and pencil on paper
14 1/2 x 19 1/2in

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    James Graham & Sons, New York.
    (Probably) Acquired by the present owner from the above, 1958.

    Exhibited
    Los Angeles, California, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Western Scene, October 14-December 14, 1975, n.p., no. 47, illustrated.

    The present work is numbered CR.PC.269 in the online catalogue raisonné of the artist's work at www.russellraisonne.com.

    In the latter part of the 1910s, Charles Marion Russell began to rely upon bright, vibrant pigments to intensify his paintings. Providing drama and allowing the artist to set the mood at his discretion, Russell explored a palette not unlike that of his contemporary, Maxfield Parrish, a noted colorist and iconic American artist. Scouting Party of 1919, is undoubtedly reflective of this period of the artist's career with strong passages of yellow, blue and orange, all in tones that present a stark, yet complimentary contrast with one another.

    Comparatively, Russell's The Fireboat of 1918 contains many of the same vibrant colors present in Scouting Party and both works employ this color to set a dramatic scene. Pregnant with forthcoming action, The Fireboat highlights the central figure who is making the signal for fire with his raised hand. One can imagine the drama that will likely ensue. Likewise, Scouting Party, of only one year later, presents the central figures at a similar predicament. As if spotted by their enemy, the Native Americans look fiercely to the right and warily ahead, allowing the viewer to visualize the imminence of an external threat.

    By 1919, Russell had perfected both his application of drama and the systematic delineation of his figures by placing them against a deep, never-ending background. Similar to his other cowboy artist contemporaries, Russell was aware of the eventual demise of the "Great American West" but never considered abandoning his stylistic mode or looking elsewhere for inspiration. "He's so individual," wrote one critic in 1919, "that modern movements in the art world, eddying around him, never touch the big simplicity of his nature." (as quoted in P. Hassrick, "Charles Russell, Painter," Charles M. Russell: A Catalogue Raisonné, Norman, Oklahoma, 2007, p. 109)
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