Charlie’s Treasure Chest

Charlie Russell


While I was in the office at work one day, I overheard a couple of my coworkers conversing about Charlie Russell.

One of the women happened to be married to a relative of Mr. Russell’s wife. Through her husband, she’d learned the following story:

During his times of poverty, Charlie Russell would frequently stop at a saloon to get a drink even though he didn’t have any money. In the beginning the bartender would give him something for free, but after giving away countless beverages to Charles, the bartender decided not to put up with it any longer.

“I’m not giving you anything more for free,” he said.

Charlie Russell then made a deal. Instead of paying cash, he’d draw something for the bartender as payment for some alcohol. So he did.

According to the story, the bartender accumulated a trunk full of Charlie Russell drawings.

The sad twist in the plot is that the bar burned down later and the trunk of rare Russell pieces was destroyed along with it.


Charlie Russell’s paintings of the west eventually became known and made quite an impression on people from around the world. He attained fame and fortune in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s for his depictions and scenes of a burgeoning western frontier.

Below are a few examples of his work that are now in the public domain.

Charles M. Russell, ‘Round Up on the Musselshell, 1919’



Charles M. Russell, ‘Keeoma #3, Oil ,1898’



‘To The Victor Belongs The Spoils, 1901’ by Charles Marion Russell


You may want to read M and E’s excellent adventure, “Great Falls, Montana”. Charlie Russell spent much of his life there and produced many of his famous paintings in Great Falls.

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