The Lone Wolf, 1900
Originally part of the famous collection in Bill Rance’s Silver Dollar Saloon (one of Russell’s favorite
hangouts in Great Falls), this painting and Monarch of the Forest, were displayed for years as a pair.
The First National Bank of Great Falls bought the pair after the saloon was closed during Prohibition and
eventually split the pair up, giving The Lone Wolf to banker Harold Hoover, whose son Jack later donated
it to the Russell Museum.
The Lone Wolf depicts a fierce, solitary animal of the Judith Basin. Once common on the Northern Plans,
wolves were universally hated by cattlemen and settlers, who hunted them to the brink of extinction by
the 1920s. Wolves have an inevitable presence in Russell’s Western wilderness, and he initially depicts
them as evil predators. However, in this work, he demonstrates a change of heart, presenting his
subjects with majesty and dignity.
Given Russell’s penchant for painting thematically related works, the pair likely represents the cycle of
nature codified here as “predator and prey,” both necessary to maintaining balance in the natural world,
a balance of which Russell would have been acutely aware in the early 1900s.
Donated by J.M. Hoover, in memory of Harold and Grace Hoover
Dimensions: 21 x 15
Printed on heavy canvas, ready to frame.