Captain William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition Meeting with the Indians of the Northwest by Charles M. Russell
About the Work
The Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804-1806) stirred Russell's imagination like no other event in Montana's past and he painted it a number of times both in color and black and white. Though this painting was originally called Lewis and Clark Meeting the Mandan Indians, the specific occurrence Russell meant to depict remains unclear. Here, Clark steps forward with aloof dignity to shake hands with the Indian headman while Charbonneau, husband of Sacajawea, interprets and Clark's black servant, York, looks on. As was traditional at the time, the figures appear stiffly conventionalized and the colors "kind of stout," to use Russell's own words, running to browns and greys. None the less, this impressive, large scale performance was a touchstone work in defining Russell's local reputation in the year he took up permanent residence in Great Falls.