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The Russell: The Western art auction in Great Falls, Montana

“I want my paintings to inspire people to be still, to listen to that quiet voice, and then rise up assured that they are a part of something bigger than their schedule,” once said painter Mark Keathley.

Thunder River from painter Mark Keathley - credit Mark Keathley

Thunder River from painter Mark Keathley – credit Mark Keathley


The third annual “The Russell” auction by the Charlie M. Russell museum in Great Falls will be held from March 14th to March 17th. It is the largest auction of Western art in the United States. The auction used to be known from 1969 to 2009 as the CM Russell auction. When the Ad club in Great Falls decided not to continue with the auction, the museum pursued on its own.

The website of Buddy Le, a Western art dealer, reports that the museum sold $2.75 million of artwork last year. 238 watercolors, oil paintings, bronze sculptures and artifacts were sold during the three days.

There were 188 artists. Two of the biggest sales were Charlie M. Russell works, each for $375,000 the “Roping a steer (1898)” and “Waiting for her Brave’s Return”. The watercolor of C. M. Russell “Indian River on Horseback (1898)” was sold for $300,000. Chris Owen’s oil painting “The Storm” was sold for $25,000 and Greg Kelsey’s bronze sculpture “Walkara-Hawk of the Mountains” for $35,000. Steve Seltzer’s oil painting “Life’s Little Pleasures was sold for $6,500  and Joe Abbrescia’s oil painting “Mountain Majesty” for $19,500.

Kit Carson & the Fremont Expedition a Bents Fort - copyright Andy Thomas

Kit Carson & the Fremont Expedition a Bents Fort – copyright Andy Thomas

“The Outriders” from the well-known painter, Andy Thomas, was sold for $42,500 and his oil painting “Kit Carson and the Fremont Expedition at Ben’s Fort” for $85,000. In 2008 he had sold his painting “Charlie Russell and his Characters” for $180,000.

This year many artists will be there again in Great Falls to sell their Western artworks. Greg Eiselein from Round Up, MT, will be there with his oil on panel painting “The Gatekeeper”. A minimum bid of $2,500 is asked. Eiselein, who paints in his “Snowy Mountain Studio”, is known for his ranch, landscapes paintings and sculptures. A similar of his Western paintings “At the Gate” was already sold.

Among the paintings and artworks of Charlie Russell which will be at the auction are “High, Wide and Handsome”, a watercolor from 1919 and “Indian Women Crossing Stream”, a watercolor on paper from 1897.

Other artists will be in Great Falls for the Russell:

  • Mark Keathley from Texas with “Thunder River” – a minimum bid of $10,000 is asked for at the silent auction – Keathley was recently called “America’s Artist”.
  • Gary Lynn Roberts, the son of Joe Rainer, will be there with “The Card Cheats” (minimum bid of $12,000 at the silent auction) and “Changing Mounts” $30,000 to $40,000 retail price).
  • Howard Post, artist seen in many museums in the USA and featured in various publications will be at the auction with “Roadside” ($18,000 to $22,000 retail price) and “The Crossroads” ($6,000 to $8,000).
  • Charles Fritz, who illustrated the journals of Lewis & Clark, will be there with the paintings “Red Cloud’s War on the Bozeman Trail Attack at Crazy Woman Crossing” ($26,000 to $28,000 retail price), “Mystique of Timberline” ($30,000 to $40,000) and “Winter Camp of the Pend d’Oreille” ($12,000 to $14,000).

Of course Andy Thomas will be at the Russell auction with two magnificent oil on linen paintings called “Russell Paints a Masterpiece” (retail of $70,000 to $85,000 at live auction) & “The Challenger” (minimum bid of $20,000 at the silent auction).

Charlie Russell paints A Masterpiece from Painter Andy Thomas - copyright Andy Thomas

Charlie Russell paints A Masterpiece from Painter Andy Thomas – copyright Andy Thomas

The first day of the auction, March 14th, will take place at the Charlie M. Russell museum. It will start at 6:00 p.m. with a silent auction. The next day on March 15th there will be a quick draw and a live auction at the Meadow Lark Country Club starting at 10:00 a.m. The following day there will be three lectures at the Charlie M. Russell museum: “Searching for Schreyvogel”, “Western Perspectives and Post Impressionism” & “The Art of the Portrait in Oil”. In the evening the live auction will start at the Best Western Heritage Inn.

It is not too late to make plans and go there or place a bid with the absentee bid form. You can view the entire auction catalogue on the museum website.

No doubt you will enjoy The Russell!


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