The Scalp Dancer by Charles M. Russell

Name: The Scalp Dancer | Artist: Charles M. Russell Media: Bronze | Year(s): 1914
Charles M. Russell | The Scalp Dancer | 1914 | Bronze | Private Collection

About the Work

Like many artists at the crossroads of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Charlie sought to record the history and spirit of a world that would soon belong to the past. Russell focused on the daily experiences of cowboys, man's relationship with animals and the forces of Mother Nature, and American Indian ritual and dress. The resulting bronzes were welcomed by an urban-based public hungry for art mythologizing the West. It was a ready market for Russell, who had been drawn to the characters of the West since childhood. This small figure of a dancing Indian wearing a breech cloth, with his flowing braids and a wolf skin trailing at his side, suggests the low, side-to-side leaping motions made by Crow warriors dancing in celebration of successful coups taken against an enemy. This subject is one of several smaller decorative, utilitarian bronzes. The bookends and ashtrays were likely created at wife and business partner Nancy's urging, who saw the potential appeal of affordable sculptures, believing they would reach a broader market than the more expensive paintings.