The C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls is celebrating the centennial anniversary of the 1919 Victory Stampede and what is considered the greatest decade of work by western painter Charles Marion Russell.
Original C.M. Russell paintings and sculptures from this time, collected from private and public collections across the continent, are on display at the museum until Sept. 30 in an exhibition titled "Return to Calgary: Charles M. Russell and the 1919 Victory Stampede."
"Seeing these works returned to their birthplace along with the stories eloquently shared through fresh scholarship, allows us all to understand what it would have been like to know Charlie in his artistic prime," said Tom Figarelle, C.M. Russell Museum executive director.
The exhibition of 22 original paintings and eight sculptures and accompanying catalog provide a visual record for a time when Russell reached beyond his label as “Montana’s Cowboy Artist” to that of an international figure in the world of art, according to a press release.
In the early 1900s, Russell was invited by showman and rodeo manager Guy Weadick to participate in the second "Victory" Stampede in Calgary in 1919. The event was a celebration of victory in the First World War and to bolster the spirit of citizens in Calgary struggling in the aftermath. He created a colorful campaign of 24 paintings that "captured the thrill of the rodeo spectacle, patriotism within the British Empire, and nostalgia for the Old West," bringing the prairies and the plains to the city.
Works of art have been collected from Gilcrease Museum, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, and the Glenbow Museum, which loaned more than half of the paintings involved in the exhibit.
Stories and missing pieces of the historical records were also uncovered in the process of building this catalog. The exhibition includes essays by Russell scholar Brian W. Dippie, curator Emily Wilson, and authors Karen B. McWhorter and Laura F. Fry alongside full-color art in a publication available for purchase at the museum.
In addition to the Great Falls presentation, the museum has joined with the Calgary Stampede to create a centennial anniversary companion exhibition in giclée of all 24 paintings shown in 1919.
The mission of the C.M. Russell Museum at 400 13th St. N. in Great Falls, is to collect, preserve, research, interpret and educate on the art and life of Charles M. Russell; the art and lives of his contemporaries; and the art of preceding and ensuing generations that depicts and focuses on the culture, life and country of Russell's West. For more information, visit www.cmrussell.org or call (406) 727-8787.