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Label, C. M. Russell Museum, Great Falls, MT

According to Ed Ainsworth, “If the Mississippi has been the writer’s river of Mark Twain and Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, so the ‘wide Missouri’ has been, in a similar sense, the painter’s river. Its presence in some of the most romantic country associated with the Western story has given to the river a living character, as if it had absorbed much of the spirit of the adventurous events taking place on or near its banks. ‘The Big Muddy’ cast its spell immediately upon a fifteen-year-old immigrant boy from Denmark. Olaf Seltzer—with the same first name as his distinguished successor in the same field, Olaf Wieghorst, also from Denmark—went to the wilds of Montana from the sophisticated city of Copenhagen in 1877 with his mother. He already had been an art prodigy, having been admitted to the Art Institute of Copenhagen at the age of twelve. Now he was in a totally new realm—one of vast distances, strange Indians, horses, cattle, ranch life, through which the wide Missouri rolled—and it was a region that began to fascinate him from the moment he entered it.”

C. M. Russell Museum, Great Falls, MT

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