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VERSO
Label, J. N. Bartfield Galleries, New York, NY

With a Good Hoss under Him, It was Easy for an Injun to get Meat is recorded in the C. M. Russell Catalogue Raisonné as reference number CR.UNL.581.

According to Western American art historian Dr. Larry Len Peterson, “The pinnacle of Charles M. Russell’s career as an illustrator and writer was Trails Plowed Under, published posthumously in 1927. Russell was the ultimate romantic who grabbed history and married it to idealized memory and imagination. For example, despite Russell never witnessing a buffalo hunt, it became the basis for his most popular and desired art. In doing so, he created the quintessential subject of the American West. There was none more thrilling. His wife Nancy Russell explained, ‘No man can be a painter without imagination.’ “By 1921 the Russells’ best friends were Percy and Albertine Raban. ‘I feel that I was as close to Charlie as almost any of his friends,’ Raban recollected. ‘What a rare soul and a splendid spirit he had.... His ideal always stood out before him like the purple ranges that he loved and he brightened whatever trail he rode with his kindliness and his unsurpassed sense of humor.’ Nancy’s rapport with the Rabans led her to allow Charlie to produce illustrations for several publications by the Montana Newspaper Association (MNA), founded in Great Falls by Percy Raban, W. W. Cheeley, and O. F. Wadsworth. The MNA published Russell’s 1921 Rawhide Rawlins Stories and More Rawhides in 1925.

“Seeking national exposure, Nancy pursued a book deal with Harry Maule, editor of Frontier magazine and Doubleday, Page & Company in New York City. Doubleday would become the largest publisher in the nation. Trails Plowed Under reprinted sixteen of the seventeen stories from Rawhide Rawlins Stories and all eighteen from More Rawhides, accompanied by five color halftones, five black-and-white halftones, and fifty-seven line engravings. Injuns—one of six new stories—featured With A Good Hoss Under Him, It Was Easy For An Injun To Get Meat as a black-and-white halftone. Will Rogers, the most famous man in the world, provided the introduction to this classic book. In his folksy jargon, armchair historian Russell delineated the history of the buffalo hunt from the running of buffalo over cliffs to hunting them on horseback with bows and arrows, and later firearms. Injuns is one of the last stories he ever penned, and this work is one of the last buffalo hunt illustrations he ever painted. In the story Russell lamented, ‘Civilization don’t agree with him—he ain’t got room. A few more generations an’ there won’t be a full-blooded American left.’

“When an ailing Russell completed this watercolor in the early 1920s, he understood he too would soon be joining the vanishing Indian and bison. Civilization did not agree with all three. The greatest compliment you can bestow on a story illustrator is that his images bore into memory as sharply as the books he illuminated. In one of his final buffalo hunt illustrations, Russell proved that to be so true.”

LITERATURE
Charles M. Russell, Trails Plowed Under (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1927), facing p 25, illustrated

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