CHARLES MARION RUSSELL | BEFORE THE WHITE MAN CAME (INDIAN GAME HUNT)
CHARLES MARION RUSSELL
1864 - 1926
BEFORE THE WHITE MAN CAME (INDIAN GAME HUNT)
signed CM Russell and inscribed with the artist's skull device and dated 1897 (lower left)
oil en grisaille on board
18 by 24 ⅜ inches
(45.7 by 61.9 cm)
Painted in 1897.
This work is number CR.PC.34 in the online catalogue raisonné of the artist's work at www.russellraisonne.com.
The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes, Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, firstname.lastname@example.org, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's.
This work has not been recently cleaned and may have never been cleaned. The paint layer is quite shiny, and the varnish has probably yellowed over time. There are some visible broad retouches around the extreme edges. There are very few restorations within the picture proper; the only one of any note is a retouched vertical scratch in the upper sky. The panel is flat, and the paint layer is stable.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.
Kennedy Galleries, New York
Walter Reed Bimson, Phoenix, Arizona, 1955 (acquired from the above)
Valley National Bank of Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 2004
Western Field & Stream, vol. 2, no. 7, December 1897, halftone illustrated p. 182
"Striking Pictures of Frontier Life," Field and Stream, vol. 3, no. 4, July 1898, illustrated p. XIX
Field and Stream, vol. 5, no. 1, January 1900, illustrated p. 25
Field and Stream, vol. 5, no. 12, January 1901, illustrated pp. 719, 773
Harold McCracken, The Charles M. Russell Book, Garden City, New York, 1957, p. 184, illustrated
John Taliaferro, Charles M. Russell: The Life and Legend of America’s Cowboy Artist, Norman, Oklahoma, 2003, p. 115
Great Falls, Montana, C.M. Russell Gallery, Centennial Year, 1864-1964, April 1964, no. 673, illustrated n.p.
Tucson, Arizona, Tucson Art Center, Arts Collected By Banks in Arizona, October 1966, n.p.
Tucson, Arizona, University of Arizona Museum of Art, The West and Walter Bimson: Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture, 1971, pp. 168, 221, illustrated p. 141
Wickenburg, Arizona, Wickenburg Museum, December 1975-January 1976 (on loan)
Tucson, Arizona, Tucson Museum of Art, Arizona Collects the West, October-December 1983, n.p.
Phoenix, Arizona, Walter Reed Bimson Gallery Of Western Art, The Valley National Bank of Arizona Fine Arts Collection, 1983, n.p.
Scottsdale, Arizona, Scottsdale Center for the Arts, Romance of the Range: The Horse in Western Art, October-December 1991, n.p.
Painted in 1897, the present work is a thoughtful manifestation of Charles Marion Russell's deep respect and intimate knowledge of the Native Americans of the Plains. Before the White Man Came (Indian Game Hunt) epitomizes Russell's desire to preserve the spirit of the West. Here, he portrays a scene that at once captures the first interactions of the Native Americans with the frontier settlers, while paying tribute to a culture and lifestyle in peril.
Russell understood the profound relationship between the Native Americans and the vanishing frontier. Art historian Peter Hassrick explains, "That Indian, symbolizing the Rousseauian natural man, was the single most significant symbol of the West for Russell. He found their way of life far more profound than any of the ephemeral proficiencies of his fellow cowboys, and their traditions represented timeless and universal values that only the arts could preserve. Civilization had crushed the plains culture. Despite the fact that the artist's vocation as a cowboy had indirectly caused the final depletion of the bison, Russell followed a self-enlightened mandate to celebrate and preserve the Indian image as noble. Just as he struggled to humanize the cowboy, he strove to idealize the Indian" (Charles M. Russell, New York, 1989, p. 50).