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Oh! Mother, What is It? was given by Nancy Russell to Robert P. Thoroughman as a wedding gift. The original accompanying card, signed by Nancy Russell, will accompany the lot. The card states, “Dear Robert I am sending, by express, a gift for you and your wife. I hope your happiness will last - as long as this deathless bronze. You have my love and all good wishes for your new life. Your friend Nancy C. Russell”

Describing this bronze Rick Stewart wrote, “Russell’s keen knowledge of the grizzly bear was based on a lifetime of observation. His depictions of the animal were not the overly romanticized preconception of many of his contemporaries. ... For his second bear subject, a popular and appealing work that came to be titled Oh! Mother, What is It?, Russell in 1914, modeled a mother bear and her two cubs confronting a porcupine. He was familiar with the frolicsome curiosity of grizzly cubs in their early months of life in the great outdoors, and his sculpture shows the bear family in a typical situation. ... This wildlife subject with its family overtones on a human scale, was very much in the spirit of progressive nature writing of the day, and a sculpture such as this one had the potential to become very popular with a broad audience.”

According to Rick Stewart, “The actual number of lifetime casts is probably twenty, since the work appears to have been fairly popular with buyers. Sixteen casts of this work have been noted in public or private collections and at auction, five have foundry marks from Zoppo, five are from California Art Bronze Foundry, three are from Nelli Art Bronze Works, and none bear a Roman Bronze Works identification.”

Nancy Russell, gifted to
Robert P. and Eula Thoroughman 1938
James Thoroughman and Robert Thoroughman, by descent

Rick Stewart, Charles M. Russell, Sculptor (Fort Worth, TX: Amon Carter Museum, 1994), pp 197-200, example illustrated

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