From his days spent on the open range of Montana, Russell was drawn to depicting the life and history of the American West.
In 1912 and again in 1919, the charismatic Wild West showman and rodeo promoter Guy Weadick sought out Russell as a major exhibitor and headliner to help promote the fledgling “Stampede” rodeo in Calgary, Alberta.
The week-long run of events and exhibits was designed to commemorate the values and people of the Old West, then rapidly changing from a way of life in North America to the stuff of memory, legend, and sport.
By celebrating old-timers, pioneers, ranching, cowboying, and indigenous traditions, the Stampede delivered the “West that had passed”—a theme central to Russell’s work as an artist—to popular audiences across Canada.
The special 1919 Calgary event was branded the Victory Stampede in honor of the troops returning home from the Great War overseas and in celebration of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.
Return to Calgary: Charles M. Russell and the 1919 Victory Stampede richly illustrates all twenty-four paintings and eight bronzes included in the historic 1919 special exhibition of Russell’s work at Victoria Park in Calgary.