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It is always challenging to analyze Charles Marion Russell’s work in regards to its portrayal of the American West and its denizens, mostly due to the complex nature of those relationships at the beginning of the 20th century. At times it seems that Russell is attempting to defend the Native American peoples and show the world their side of history, while on other moments, such as this, the Native Americans are portrayed as villains, the obstacles to the expansion to the West, eternal nemeses of the good, hard-working cowboy. Compounded to that is the fact that, in his youth, Russell himself left his family home in Missouri to become a cowboy in Montana, which undoubtedly would inform his views and depictions of the West’s residents.
In this scene, Russell portrays two cowboys with their trusty rifles in hand, struggling to lead their horses up a rocky hill. Because the terrain is rough, the horses seem not to be very cooperative, adding drama to the scene. On the opposite side of the gulch, the shadows projected by the setting sun form a shape that can be instinctively interpreted as a Native American war band. That process of recognition is in itself interesting because it is based off rather minute detail, such as the last figure appearing to be carrying a bow and arrow, the stereotypical weapon of the Natives, or the fact that the fifth figure from the left is more voluminous in a way that reminds the observer of the way Native American headdresses are usually portrayed in popular culture. A portrayal that incidentally was heavily influenced by Russell himself, who was not only reproducing discourse but had a hand at crafting how the collective imagination sees the American West and the people who inhabited it.
This 1915 painting in interesting, mainly because it shows a certain level of incoherence in Russell’s discourse and image. While there is the idea that Russell was the cowboy who tried to see things from the Native American’s perspective, he was still not above portraying them as mysterious villains, almost like another force of nature for the white cowboys to overcome. On the other hand, this could just as well be the artist portraying the cowboys’ hostile attitude towards the Natives who, by all accounts, are merely riding about, not knowing of the dangerous armed men who lurk in the gorge below.
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Important Notes About Your Painting:
If you have any request to alter your reproduction of When Shadows Hint Death, you must email us after placing your order and we'll have an artist contact you. If you have another image of When Shadows Hint Death that you would like the artist to work from, please include it as an attachment. Otherwise, we will reproduce the above image for you exactly as it is.
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Depending on the degree of damage to the warranted painting, it will either be repaired or replaced. This warranty service is provided free of charge.
When purchasing a painting on its own, it will arrive rolled inside a secure tube with an extra 1.5" of white canvas on all sides so you can easily frame it in any local frame shop.
You may choose to purchase your painting framed, in which case, it will arrive "ready to hang". We offer more than 20 beautiful models, all hand finished and expertly assembled by our experienced framers.
Note that for safety reasons we can only frame up to a certain size. Once the maximum size is reached the framing option is automatically disabled.
If you are planning to frame your painting yourself,
use an existing frame, or frame it locally, you may choose to order your painting with a stretching service,
meaning that it will arrive mounted on wooden bars.
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