I still love and long for the old west, and everything that goes with it. But I would sacrifice it all for Mrs. Russell.
– Charles M. Russell
In 1895 Charles M. Russell was a dinner guest at the home of Ben and Lela Roberts. It was here that he met Nancy Cooper, the Roberts’ live-in housekeeper. Eleven months later, in 1896, Charlie and Nancy were wed. They later moved to Great Falls, Montana, and in 1916, they became a family of three when they adopted a son, Jack.
Charlie created approximately 4,000 works during his lifetime. However, his renown is due not only to his productivity and talent, but to the support and business savvy of his wife, Nancy. Charlie was uncomfortable selling his art and often undercharged his customers. Nancy’s sentiments were quite different, and early on she began managing the business and promoting Charlie’s work and career. She arranged exhibitions, courted collectors, and stood her ground during negotiations.
Charlie affectionately called Nancy “Mame” throughout their life together. After his death, Nancy maintained Charlie’s estate; opened a home studio in which to sell his art to the public; organized memorial exhibits; and, published two books of his writings. Nancy undoubtedly helped insure Charlie’s legacy as one of America’s most notable western artists.