2024 Coeur d’Alene Art Auction / Lot 8383 / 404  •  View Catalog  •   • 

83
Charles M. Russell (1864 – 1926)
The Ambush
oil on canvas
18.5 × 29.5 inches
28 × 39 × 3.5 inches (framed)
signed lower left

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

An original bill of sale from J. N. Bartfield Galleries dated 1992 will accompany the lot.

In 1888, Charles M. Russell made a decision which would have a major effect in his artistic portrayal of Indians. In his book about Russell, Harold McCracken wrote, “He went to live with the Indians – not just as a casual visitor, but to live in their skin lodges as one of them. He rode Monte over the long trail that led north, beyond the Canadian border and into the land of the Bloods, a primitive band of the Blackfeet.” Russell declared, “My Indian study came from observing the Blackfeet in Alberta.”

McCracken stated, “The Bloods accepted Russell into their lodges and he quickly became a brother of the tribe. His worn out cowboy clothing was supplemented with Indian buckskin and he let his hair grow. Hospitality led to real friendship. He enjoyed the privilege of being welcome to sit for long storytelling sessions in the big tepee of Sleeping Thunder, the principal chief of the tribe; and in that of Nat-o-wap-e-sti-pis-e-mach-is, or Medicine Whip, the principal warrior hero of the tribe.” No doubt this relationship led Russell to paint sympathetic portrayals of Indian life such as The Ambush.

According to Russell historian Fred Renner, “Russell often used a classical pyramidal configuration to emphasize the ascension of the Indians to the overlook, to balance the precipitous fall of the canyon and to lead the viewer, wherever he may begin, to the central heights of the picture from which the Indians gaze out.” The Ambush evokes the spirit of the Native American and Russell’s full understanding of his subject is clearly evident.

PROVENANCE
George A. Bates, Cary, Illinois, ca. 1958
Constance MacGregor, by descent, 1984
J. N. Bartfield Galleries, New York, New York, 1992
James R. Jundt, Wayzata, Minnesota
Present owners, by descent

83

Charles M. Russell

1864 – 1926

The Ambush
oil on canvas
18.5 × 29.5 inches
28 × 39 × 3.5 inches (framed)
signed lower left
$400,000 – 600,000
Condition ReportSurface is in good condition. Canvas is lined. Inpainting along top and right side, at edge of frame. Small spot of inpainting in lower-right corner. Spots of inpainting in the sky.

Important Notice: Statements of condition are provided as a service to potential bidders; such statements are educated opinions and should not be regarded as facts. The Coeur d’Alene Art Auction has no responsibility for any errors or omissions.