Charles Marion Russell (American, 1864-1926)
Smoking with the Spirit of the Buffalo (a posthumous cast)
Inscribed "CM Russell/©" and with the skull incised in the bronze at the figure's
right side, incised "R.B.W." at the figure's left side.
Bronze with dark brown patina, 7 1/4 x 5 x 4 1/4 in. (18.5 x 13.0 x 10.5 cm).
Condition: Dust and dirt to interstices.
N.B. During Charles Marion Russell's initial years in Montana, the buffalo had disappeared from the Northern Plains. According to the artist's friend, Claude Lanstrum, the subject of this sculpture was derived in 1887, while Russell was with Alberta's Blood Indians, whose elders believed that the buffalo would return from underground, where they had sought refuge, after the white man had been driven out of the Indian country.
Nancy Russell, the artist's wife, arranged to have this work, along with five other new pieces, cast at Benjamin Zoppo's Artistic Bronze Foundry in 1916. After Charles Russell's death, George Sack wrote to Nancy Russell saying he had discovered the model used by Zoppo in a warehouse, and had delivered it to Roman Bronze Works. Sack was asking Mrs. Russell about composition details that had been damaged in storage. In January 1927, because the original was unsigned, Nancy Russell asked that the foundry copy the signature from other pieces for the wax and cut it into the plaster model. There were at least two casts known from the Roman Bronze Works period. In 1929, Nancy Russell applied for a copyright for the sculpture, removed the sculpture from Roman Bronze Works, and authorized an unknown number of casts to be produced by the California Art Bronze Foundry. [Charles M. Russell, A Catalogue Raisonne, B. Byron Price, editor, (Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 2007)].
The absence of a condition statement does not imply that the lot is in perfect condition or completely free from wear and tear, imperfections or the effects of aging. Condition requests can be obtained via email (lot inquiry button) or by telephone to the appropriate gallery location (Boston/617.350.5400 or Marlborough/508.970.3000). Any condition statement given, as a courtesy to a client, is only an opinion and should not be treated as a statement of fact. Skinner Inc. shall have no responsibility for any error or omission.