Sculptor - Charles M. Russell
Title - Where the Best of Riders Quit
Lost Wax Cast Bronze
Classic Bronze #1/50
14 3/8" height by 11 1/4" length
(36.5 cm by 28.5 cm)
Charlie Russell lived the true cowboy life and would have seen and ridden many bucking horses. Some of the wilder horses would fight and intentionally throw themselves backward in an attempt to injure the rider. Russell was familiar with such horses and used the theme in an illustration he did in 1889. Much later in 1921 he sculpted this subject in one of his largest and most popular sculptures "Where the Best of Riders Quit".
His wife Nancy later wrote a description about it -- "The old-time cowpuncher knew his horse and it was often a battle of wits when he was `breaking’ him to ride. This horse is making a fight and is figuring on landing on his rider. This rider, being of the best, is thinking too. As he steps off his fighting horse he will be standing beside him when he lands and, having ahold of the cheek piece of the hackamore, will help the horse bump his head a little harder when he hits the ground. As the horse comes up the cowpuncher will grasp the horn and will be in the saddle when he gets on his feet again. Most horses think twice before they throw themselves a second time.”
Russell completed the model in 1921 and a version was shown that year in Denver at the Brown Palace Hotel. The first casts were done by Roman Bronze Works in NY and later casts were done by California Art Bronze Foundry. The plaster casting model was damaged after Russell's death and was reworked. After 1927, Nancy Russell supervised the casting of this work and after her death other posthumous casts were produced by several foundries.
This bronze offered here is from one of those posthumous editions. It was cast by Classic Bronze in El Monte California in 1980 from one of the originals. It is cast number 1 from a proposed edition of 50 casts but the edition was never completed. There were probably less than 10 of these large bronzes cast by Classic Bronze before they stopped production of it.
The bronze has a rich red brown patina and it mounted on a 2 inch thick walnut wood base. It is signed by Russell and marked "JHM Classic Bronze 1/50 Copyright 1980 M.S.D.C.". It has sharp detail and is full of action.
There are only 15 Roman Bronze Works casts of this model, and one sold at Sotheby's NY in 2008 for $469.000, another sold in 2006 brought $352,000. A cast by California Art Bronze was sold in March 2017 at the Russell Museum auction for over $300,000.
This posthumous cast from the original is reasonably priced in the low 4 figures and one can enjoy this Charles Russell classic Western bronze without breaking the bank!