Sunday, 8 February 2015

The Buffalo Hunt - Charles Marion Russell (1919)

This is the painting The Buffalo Hunt by Charles M Russell, painted in 1919. This image was painted 7 years prior to Russell's death and well into his career as an artist, throughout his time as an artist Russell specialised in painting the Old American West and had previously lived with a Native American tribe. This is probably the cause of the genre of his paintings and also the nature of them too.

As seen in the above image, the Native American tribe are hunting the Bison on horseback using their bow and arrows. This paints a much more positive view of the Native Americans as it shows them in a much more civilised manner than the 'savage' depiction they had been given before. Just as well, the grass is green, the sky is blue, and the Bison are the many, there is still this image of a bountiful America with resource for all.

Russell held a high amount of respect for the tribe that he stayed with for the 1888-1889 period the 'Blood Indians' this is possibly the reason for the positive image for the Native Americans in the above painting. Even though, the Native Americans are on a hunt they arent being portrayed as 'abusive' of the land or nature, and as well it is as if the image is saying the America is so bountiful that even these great hunters don't require all the food available. Unfortunately shortly following the release of this painting in 1919 the Bison population fell to extreme lows and it came extremely close to the extinction of the species altogether. This idea of the never-ending supply of food and raw materials, it's no surprise that the American population felt it acceptable to go and have mass Bison hunts and thus killing millions of Bison.

After having released almost 2,000 paintings -the majority of which were of the American West- Russell had become an internationally recognised artist. There has been an art museum opened in his name once he passed away, displaying almost 2,000 of his artworks, artifacts and personal belongings. This shows how effective Russell had been in reproducing the old west as so many people across the world appreciated his work. Russell was a respectable man and passed away on 24th of October 1926

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