Published: August 3, 2021
RENO, NEV. – “Roping A Wolf,” an adrenaline pumping frontier painting by Charles M Russell (1864-1926) sold for $1,770,000 in Coeur d’Alene Art Auction’s July 31 sale.
The oil on canvas work dates to 1904, a watershed moment for the artist. The auction house wrote, “Visiting New York City for the first time in December 1903, Russell’s extended trip greatly influenced the artist and he returned to Montana in 1904 with a new sense of confidence in his artistic abilities. This watershed moment marks what many scholars believe to be the beginning of the period where he created his greatest works. Highly sought-after works by Russell from this period are the highlight of many museum and private collections.”
A scholar on the artist, Frederic G. Renner, included and wrote about the work in his 1986 title Charles M. Russell: Paintings, Drawings and Sculptures in the Amon Carter Museum.
Renner wrote, “With the destruction of their natural prey, the buffalo, wolves turned to the white man’s cattle and these pests soon became a serious problem to early Montana cowmen. Various means for their destruction were tried. Some ranchers employed ‘wolfers’ to trap and poison the animals during the winter. John Harris, a prominent stockman of Fort Benton, imported a pack of hounds, but one winter the wolves got so hungry and bold they turned on the dogs and ran them all back to the safety of the ranch. Cowboys, encouraged by the bounty nearly equal to a week’s wages, roped them for the fun of it.”
The work had a chain of provenance that ran from the artist to Leslie’s Weekly publisher John A. Sleicher, to Mary Sleicher, to the Amon Carter Museum of American Art and finally to a private collection.
A full review of the sale, which grossed $17.5 million in total, will appear in a future issue.
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