On March 23, 2019, the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana, held its annual live auction as the capstone to three days of programs, exhibits and other offerings in keeping with its mission and namesake. The sold-out capacity Saturday live auction along with other sales proved highly successful with the gross total for the 2019 events, including buyer’s premiums, reaching $4.7 million.
In all, over 200 lots of art in various media, including paintings, sculptures, furniture and models, were up for bid, with proceeds benefitting the museum’s nonprofit and educational programs. While contemporary artists dominated, past masters Harold von Schmidt (1893-1982), Olaf Seltzer (1877-1978), Will James (1892- 1942), Frank Earle Schoonover (1877-1922) and of course, Charles M. Russell were represented.
In fact, 13 lots by Russell ranged from one of his iconic illustrated letters to a bronze and several paintings. While some of the work depicted wildlife such as grizzly bear and elk, the most prevalent was American Indians, a topic which helped propel Russell into the top ranks of Western artists.
Not surprisingly, as indicated by the museum’s media release: “Consistent with years past, significant Russell works in the auction are among the highest earners of the night.” For instance, the 1897 oil Approach of White Men sold for $1,369,000; the 1900 oil Indian with Bow brought $753,000; the 1895 wate