Charlie Russell’s Lost West

Charles Marion Russell, born outside St. Louis, in Oak Hill, Missouri, of a locally prominent family in 1864, came west to Montana Territory four days short of his sixteenth birthday. Charlie Russell, the “Cowboy Artist,” died there in Great Falls forty-six years later, in 1926.Read more »

Baltimore, Through A Glass Darkly

The proper Baltimore gentry of the mid-nineteenth century who paid Hans Heinrich Bebie to paint their portraits posed for the staid, rather dour man (or so he seemed) whose own self-portrait appears to the left. The neat and competent if uninspired likenesses that rewarded their patronage gave them little indication that Bebie was anything more than a stolid professional. Many cities had their Bebies until the age of photography. Read more »

A Man’s Life

That eighteenth-century British curmudgeon Dr. Samuel Johnson once remarked, “I would rather see a portrait of a dog that I know than all the allegorical paintings they can show me in the world.” A hundred years later an American who shared this sentiment, Cassius Marcellus Coolidge (1844 1934), began painting the daily lile of some very humanoid canines, an artistic subspecialty that was preceded by a string of careers.Read more »

Mary Cassatt

“I do not admit that a woman can draw like that,” said Degas when he saw one of her pictures

At eight o’clock on the evening of June 14, 1926, a very old woman—blind and suffering from advanced diabetes—died in her chateau on the edge of the tiny village of Mesnil-Theribus, some thirty miles northwest of Paris. At her funeral, because she held the Legion of Honor, there was a detail of soldiers, and because she was chatelaine of the manor house, the village band played and most of the townspeople followed her coffin to the cemetery. There was nothing extraordinary in this; it is a not uncommon ritual in the villages of France.Read more »

Reginald Marsh

A reminiscent tribute to a great American painter, with an evocative selection from thousands of unpublished sketches

Soon after Reginald Marsh’s death in 1954 an art magazine asked me to write about him. When I turned in the article the editor said he liked it but he had one reservation: “You say, ‘In my opinion he was the greatest artist of his time.’ Do you mean that? Greater than Picasso?”

“Yes,” I answered. Read more »

A Schoolboy’s Sketchbook

Charles Manon Russell, the famous artist of the American West, came to Montana m 1880 as a boy of sixteen. He lived there the rest of his life, working for a number of years as a cattle wrangler and gradually getting to know with intimacy the men and the country that were to be his great subject during forty-six years of drawing, painting, and sculpting. Read more »

Centennial City

The simple, affectionate water colors of an unassuming Scots immigrant, David J. Kennedy, bring back the Philadelphia of 1876 and our first great world’s fair

President Ulysses S. Grant opened the United States Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia on May 10, 1876. When the closing ceremonies were held on November i o, in a cold drenching rain, 9,910,966 people (paid and free) had passed through the entrance gates. This was more than fourteen times the population of Philadelphia, the second largest city of the United States, and more than had attended any of the great world’s fairs held in the preceding quarter century.Read more »

The Paintings Of Mr. Otis

A “primitive-moderne” spoofs American art and history.

A new talent burst on the art world a few months ago, a talent which lies somewhere between Jackson Pollock and Gluyas Williams and within shouting distance of Maxfield Parrish. His name is simply Mr. Otis, and he comes from Portland. Oregon. His work is painted laboriously, by hand, with real oil. He was sprung on an unsuspecting public by the Macmillan Company in a book called Mr. Otis.Read more »

‘The Smoke, The Thunder, The Roar Of The Battle…”

It is an interesting paradox that, of the two most famous paintings of Bunker Hill, the one that most suggests a real battle was painted by Pyle, the illustrator who lived long afterward, and not by John Trumbull, the painter who saw it (albeit from a distance) and served briefly in the Revolution (see AMERICAN HERITAGE , June, 1958).

Painters Of The Plains

The Middle West has put its stamp on many artists’ work

It is a big country, sprawling all the way from the Alleghenies to the Rockies, and it puts its mark on the people who live in it. Its climate tends to be uncompromising— baking heat in the summer, hostile cold in the winter—and it has never done anything by halves. Where it had forests, they rolled for hundreds of miles, great stands of hardwood, green twilight under their branches; its open prairies were like the sea itself, rolling west in an unbroken treeless groundswell.Read more »