Author(s): Wayne Tunnicliffe; Hilary Spurling
Australian artist John Russell (1858-1930) was an active and influential member of the French 19 th century avant‐garde, he was a close friend of Tom Roberts, Vin cent van Gogh and Auguste Rodin , taught impressionist colour theor y to Henri Matisse, and dined with Claude Monet on Belle Isle. His works are held in or loaned to international collections incl uding the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Musee d'Orsay and Mus#65533; e Rodin in Paris, the National Gallery London, the as well as t he National Gallery of Australi a and the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
While over the years Russell slipped from view, his work deserv es serious consideration in the annals of art history. This book i ncludes significant new research and will bring Russell to life as both a person and an artist through essays on his life, work and influences a nd images of works by Russell and other artists, letters between R ussell and other artists such as Van Gogh, Rodin, Matisse and Tom Robe rts, and supplementary photographs.
Russell was born in Darlinghurst , Sydney in 1858. Destined to b e an engineer in the highly successful family businesses, after inhe riting money he pursued his passion to be an artist and enrolled at th e progressive Slade School of Art in London in 1881. He then move d to France where he studied and work ed alongside French avant‐garde artists, forming a close friendship with Vincent van Gogh. In 1888 he married Marianna Antoinetta Mattiocco (who later modelled for Rodin) and they settled Belle I le off the coast of Brittany. Ru ssell built a grand home, Le Chateau Anglais , and hosted many artists over the ensuing decades including Rodin. Russell painted the coast of B elle Isle in an impressionist style be fore evolving his own richly c oloured and expressive post‐impressionist practice.
Following Marianna's death in 1908 Russell left Belle Ile trave lling in France, Italy and then to Englan d and New Zealand before return ing to Watsons Bay in Sydney where he lived until his death in 1930 .