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AUCTION 19

160. RUSSELL, Cha[rle]s M[arion].  Pen Sketches By Chas. M. Russell The Cowboy Artist Published by W. T. Ridgley Printing Company Great Falls, Mont. [cover title in gilt, no printed title, as issued].  Great Falls: Ridgley, n.d. [1899?].  12 full-page line illustrations by Russell, each preceded by printed leaf with title of the plate, poetic quotation, and a brief description of the plate, each plate with “Copyrighted W. T. Ridgley.” 29 x 36 cm, original beige cloth gilt lettered and stamped with Native American and flower.  Spine slightly darkened, mild foxing to binding and interior (heavier on title sheets), generally very good, the illustrations very fine and fresh.

     Yost & Renner (5:6) do not list this variant.  Here the plates are as the ones in their third edition (“Blazing the Trail” is the second plate, and “Initiated” is omitted); the lettering on the covers seems to be that of their fourth edition; the binding medium (cloth and gilt) is that of their first edition (but the size is larger than their first edition). Adams, Herd 1970n. Howes R529.  Merrill, Aristocrats of the Cow Country, p. 24 (citing the first edition, which had only 11 plates):  “He refused to paint in country unfamiliar to him, so Montana became his workshop.  His cowboys, horses, cows, and Indians were never equaled.”  Streeter Sale 1831 (first edition, second issue).

     This early publication by “The Cowboy Artist” includes archetypal Russell images, such as the plate of buffalo entitled “Nature’s Cattle.”  The last plate “The Last of His Race” is poignant.  Brian Dippie (“Charles Russell’s Lost West” in American Heritage, April 1973, Vol. 24, No. 3) describes the image well: “Much less frequently Russell portrayed the lot of the contemporary Indian.... A pen drawing, done in 1899 and titled ‘The Last of His Race,’ showed a wizened Indian patriarch squatting on the ground, wrapped in a shabby blanket, his weight resting on a staff. A white girl, pedaling by on her bicycle, glances back over her shoulder at this pathetic relic. But he is oblivious to her curiosity, and on his countenance is a wistful sadness as he gazes at a buffalo skull and dreams of hunts past. In the distance, across the Missouri, is the skyline of Great Falls with one of the large stacks of a copper smelter spewing out black smoke. Again civilization and the old west have clashed, and this sketch is not so much a study in present degradation as a paean to all of yesterday.” ($300-600)

Auction 19 Short Title List | Auction 19 Prices Realized

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