The Russells in Denver, 1921 to Showcase Charles M. and Nancy Russell’s Denver Legacy

Denver Art Museum’s fall 2023 exhibition includes masterworks from historic show at The Brown Palace Hotel

DENVER—August 15, 2023—The Denver Art Museum (DAM) proudly presents The Russells in Denver, 1921, an exhibition highlighting Charles M. Russell’s solo art show at The Brown Palace Hotel, organized by his wife, Nancy Russell, during the last week of November and first week of December 1921. Opening at DAM October 1, 2023, and on view through June 30, 2024, The Russells will be presented in the Helen & Arthur E. Johnson Galleries of Western American Art on the seventh level of the museum’s Martin Building and included in general admission, which is free for everyone 18 and under as well as for museum members.

Organized and curated by the DAM’s Director of the Petrie Institute of Western American Art, JR (Jennifer R.) Henneman, Ph.D., this exhibition presents 18 of Charles M. Russell’s artworks, some of which were on display at the Brown Palace. The Russells acknowledges Nancy Russell’s critical role in the couple’s art enterprise as her husband’s publicist, business partner and manager.

Landscap painting of Native Americans traveling the countryside at sunrise.

Charles Marion Russell, In the Enemy’s Country, 1921. Oil on canvas; 24 x 36 in. Denver Art Museum: Gift of the Magness Family in memory of Betsy Magness, 1991.751.

Charles and Nancy Russell posing in front of their art

Charlie and Nancy posing in front of some of their art in New York, Byron Company photograph, February 1905. Museum of the City of New York Collection, New York.

“The museum is delighted to showcase an artist beloved to Denver and iconic to the American West. Although Russell was in Denver only once during the twentieth century, his paintings and sculptures have been mainstays at the museum since the 1950s,” Christoph Heinrich, the Frederick and Jan Mayer Director of the DAM, said. “Charles and Nancy Russell were embraced by a bustling, growing Denver that strongly identified with its western roots, boasting an established arts and culture scene, which is still the case in our city today.”

By the 1920s, Charles had painstakingly devoted almost three decades of his life to painting “the west that has passed,” chronicling the vast landscapes, mountain ranges and peoples he observed as a young man working in Montana in the 1880s. After he and Nancy married in 1896, she became his business and marketing manager, helping Charles grow into one of the greatest narrative artists of the American West. Charles’ 1921 one-man show at the Brown Palace featured nine paintings, including the DAM’s own In the Enemy’s Country, and seven painted plaster sculptures that would ultimately be cast in bronze.

“By the early 1920s, Russell had reached the pinnacle of his artistic technique and vision. The nine paintings that were displayed in Denver just five years before his death are among his greatest masterworks,” Henneman said. “The Russells in Denver brings early 20th century Denver to life and, importantly, underscores Nancy’s crucial role as his marketing and business partner and manager.”

Cowboy wrangling a group of horses carrying cargo

Charles Marion Russell, When Mules Wear Diamonds, 1921. Oil paint on canvas; 30 x 33 in. (83.8 x 76.2 cm) National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum: Museum Purchase, 1972.25.

The Russells in Denver was created with assistance from Russell scholar Brian W. Dippie and Russell collector Thomas A. Petrie. The Amon Carter Museum of American Art, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, the Gilcrease Museum, the Magness Collection, Thomas A. Petrie, and Craig Harrison Sr. provided crucial loans of artworks.

With The Russells in Denver, the Petrie Institute of Western American Art (PIWAA) maintains a commitment to telling stories yet untold in the western American art canon and to celebrating the city of Denver and its art history. The Russells in Denver will be accompanied by a catalog publication that includes an essay by Henneman and an essay by Thomas A. Petrie, featuring all the artworks in the 1921 Brown Palace exhibition and supporting images including historical photographs and other Russell artworks.

Significant research for Russells in Denver was done by Managing Editor of Publications Valerie Hellstein and intern Lauren Anuszeswki, with valuable support from Curatorial Assistant Meg Selig, Senior Interpretive Specialist Lauren Thompson and Project Manager Jesse Laird Ortega.

The Russells in Denver, 1921 is organized by the Denver Art Museum. Support is provided by The Craig Harrison Family, the donors to the Annual Fund Leadership Campaign and the residents who support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD). Promotional support is provided by 5280 Magazine and CBS Colorado.

About the Denver Art Museum

The Denver Art Museum is an educational, nonprofit resource that sparks creative thinking and expression through transformative experiences with art. Its mission is to enrich lives by sparking creative thinking and expression. Its holdings reflect the city and region—and provide invaluable ways for the community to learn about cultures from around the world. Metro residents support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), a unique funding source serving hundreds of metro Denver arts, culture and scientific organizations.

For museum information, visit or call 720-865-5000.

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