Three Generations by Charles M. Russell

Name: Three Generations | Artist: Charles M. Russell Media: Oil on canvas | Year(s): 1897
Charles M. Russell | Three Generations | 1897 | Oil on canvas | 17 1/8 inches x 24 1/4 inches

About the Work

While initially appearing to be a straightforward family portrait, Three Generations can also be seen as a statement on the toll that time took on the fair Indian maidens Russell found so attractive. White observers commonly claimed that ceaseless drudgery quickly stripped the Indian women (and the pioneer white women) of their charms and made them old well beyond their years. Reflected in Russell's depiction of the three generations is one of the many concerns which may have haunted him when he considered staying with the Bloods. What would happen when youthful infatuation wore off, and the young mother sitting by the stream had aged in only a few years into the stooped, toothless grandmother beaming down on her grandchild? The old crone represented Russell's vision of the last stage of Indian womanhood and it was not an alluring picture.