Born in St Louis in 1864 Russell traveled to
Montana in 1880 just after his 16th birthday, he worked for
a short while tending sheep before joining Jake
Hoover, a local hunter, he lived with Hoover for the
next 2 years but yearned for the life of a cowboy.
During 1882 he joined the Judith Basin
Roundup as a night wrangler, this was the ideal situation
for him as it gave him time to watch and sketch the cowboys
at work in the daytime. He was fascinated with the Native
American Indians, and visited them regularly, again
sketching and documenting his travels.
He married Nancy Cooper in 1896 and
they lived together in Montana for 46 years, he worked
painting and sculpting in a log cabin next to the house and amassed
a huge collection of weapons, horse jewelry, and cowboy memorabilia.
He completed an amazing 4000 works during his lifetime.
His trade mark was to wear a sash rather than a belt, and
many picture of him will show him in this attire. His love
of the west has made him one of the most respected western
artists of his time.