Thomas Moran Painting of Castle Rock Going on Auction Block

Thomas Moran Painting of Castle Rock Going on Auction Block

Thomas Moran, Castle Rock, Green River, Wyoming (1907) (photo courtesy of C.M. Russell Museum)

MONTANA — The C.M. Russell Museum is pleased to announce that an oil painting by Thomas Moran and two original watercolor paintings by Charles M. Russell have been consigned to the Live Auction on March 19, 2016, for The Russell: An Exhibition and Sale to Benefit the C.M. Russell Museum.

Thomas Moran (1837-1926) was a British-born painter and printmaker who became one of the pre-eminent artists of the American West. In 1871, as a member of the Hayden Geological Survey, he recorded the glories of the area that Congress set aside as Yellowstone National Park in 1872.

One subject Moran interpreted time and again was the Green River in Wyoming. Measuring 20 x 30 inches, Castle Rock, Green River, Wyoming (1907) is an exceptional example of his treatment of the subject, depicting the majestic butte rising above the wide and placid bends of the fog-bound river.

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This spectacular piece of western art has the potential to gavel at the highest value for a single work in the history of The Russell. – C.M. Russell Museum

Two important watercolor paintings by Russell will also be offered for sale at the Live Auction. Watercolors comprised about one-third of Russell’s oeuvre, roughly 1,100 works of art. The artist reached a pinnacle of achievement in the watercolor medium by the end of the 1890s. His most productive period as a watercolorist followed.

Water Girl (ca. 1892) was completed during Russell’s early period with the watercolor medium. Measuring 14 x 20 inches, it depicts two Indian women on the banks of a stream, collecting water. The woman on the right, with her baby on her back, kneels by the water, while her companion stands looking across the stream, a blanket draped over her head and shoulders. In the background, a third woman is carrying water back to camp.

Russell painted Grizzly at Close Quarters (1901) during the heyday of his production. As he started work on this 17 x 14 ½ inch painting, Russell sketched the outlines of his composition in pencil directly on the paper. When studied closely, all the figures reveal some kind of drawing under the layers of wash. Compared to his early work in which the preliminary underdrawings appear fussy  and labored, this painting demonstrates a more mature technique. The layers of wash and individual strokes of color in the landscape around the figures are notable for their freedom of execution and lightness of touch.

Hunting scenes, portrayals of camp life and animal conflicts were staples of Russell’s art and popular subjects with many of his patrons. The artist called himself a “Harmless Hunter,” because he tracked game with a paintbrush rather than a rifle or bow.

The Russell Exhibition and Sale delivers a wide range of acquisition opportunities for the western art collector, with each event offering an authentic experience. For the experienced collector of western art, The Russell Live Auction features well-established contemporary art plus significant historical works in a competitive bidding atmosphere. This elegant evening includes a gourmet dinner and beverage service and is a must-attend event for collectors from across the country.

BNSF Railway is the 2016 Presenting Sponsor of The Russell: An Exhibition and Sale to Benefit the C.M. Russell Museum.

For more information on The Russell 2016, visit

Water Girl (ca. 1892) by C.M Russell (photo courtesy of C.M. Russell Museu)
Grizzly at Close Quarters (1901) by C.M. Russell. photo courtesy of C.M. Russell Museu