An exhibition celebrating the 100th anniversary of C.M. Russell’s participation in the Victory Stampede in Calgary now hangs in his namesake museum in Great Falls, Montana.
In 1919, inspired by Allied celebrations around the world, Calgary hosted the Victory Stampede to commemorate the end of the Great War. Stampede organizer Guy Weadick invited C.M. Russell, well-known for his depictions of the Old West and the great outdoors, to headline its fine art show. Having exhibited at Weadick’s inaugural Stampede in 1912 and enticed by the prospect of meeting the Prince of Wales, who was on a royal tour of Canada, Russell accepted the invitation.
An exhibition celebrating the 100th anniversary of Russell’s participation in the Victory Stampede now hangs in his namesake museum in Great Falls, Montana. Return to Calgary: C.M. Russell and the 1919 Victory Stampede brings together 21 of the original 24 paintings and all eight bronzes, the majority of which were created during the war, plus sketches and ephemera from the 1919 Stampede, including event posters and a handwritten invitation letter to the Prince of Wales.
Click on the image above to view the slideshow.
Curator Emily Crawford Wilson appreciates not just Russell’s artistry but also the interesting stories behind them. One such anecdote revolves around Signal Glass, a composition that shows a small party of Indians signaling their tribesmen with a mirror. “Large in size, brilliantly executed, and poignantly representative of the entire history of Western American art,” says Russell scholar Brian Dippie, “it was offered as a gift by a Russell patron to The Metropolitan Museum in New York [in 1916] and promptly turned down.” But the most interesting back story of the exhibit involves a painting that’s not even in the exhibit — an unknown Russell discovered by Karen McWhorter, curator at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.
Return to Calgary: C.M. Russell and the 1919 Victory Stampede is on view through September 30 at the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana. A concurrent exhibition of every painting in giclée from the 1919 show will hang in the art building at the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede July 5 – 14 in Alberta, Canada.
Photography: (all by Charles M. Russell [1864-1926]/Courtesy C.M. Russell Museum) (featured) The Navajos, 1919, oil on canvas, 24” x 36”, Desert Caballeros Western Museum, Wickenburg, Arizona, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Aiken Fisher, photograph © Terrence Moore; One of the Rough String, oil on canvas, 24” x 33”, Collection of Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Alberta (992.39.1); Piegans, 1918, 24” x 36”, Petrie Collection, Denver; When Law Dulls the Edge of Chance, 1915, 30” x 48”, Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, Wyoming, gift of William E. Weiss (28.78); The Navajos, 1919, oil on canvas, 24” x 36”, Desert Caballeros Western Museum, Wickenburg, Arizona, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Aiken Fisher, photograph © Terrence Moore; Jumped, 1914, oil on canvas, 30” x 48”, Petrie Collection, Denver.
From the July 2019 issue.