Charles M. Russell, Gun Fighter. 1904, oil on canvas. Petrie Collection.

Charles M. Russell was drawn to the West. Family stories, romantic paintings, charged illustrations, sensational novels and travelogues, and rugged figures that swept in and out of the St. Louis port wove a colorful and irresistible tapestry of the Rocky Mountain West that appealed to Russell and many other artists who came again and again to paint and photograph the region in the 19th and early 20th centuries. From high action paintings in the saddle to gun slingers in the streets of boom towns to encounters with wild predators, western artists captured narratives and visuals that were uniquely American and remain so today. All of the artists featured in this section were either born to the West or became associated with it through their travels and art. Each had a unique relationship with Russell—as a protege, friend, or colleague—and a shared love for the region.