John Peter Russell

John Peter Russell

John Peter Russell (16 June 1858 - 22 April 1930) was an Australian impressionist painter.

Life and work

John Peter Russell was the son of John Russell, iron founder, and a nephew of Sir Peter Nicol Russell. He was born at Darlinghurst, Sydney, and after his father's death went to Paris about 1880 to study painting. He was a man of means and having married a beautiful Italian, Mariana Antoinetta Matiocco, he settled at Belle Île off the coast of Brittany where he established an artists' colony.

He had met Vincent Van Gogh in Paris and formed a friendship with him. Van Gogh spoke highly of Russell's work, and after his first summer in Arles in 1888 he sent twelve drawings of his paintings to Russell, to inform him about the progress of his work. Monet often worked with Russell at Belle-Isle and influenced his style, though it has been said that Monet preferred some of Russell's Belle-Isle seascapes to his own. Russell did not attempt to make his pictures known.

In 1897 and 1898 Henri Matisse visited Belle-Isle. Russell introduced him to impressionism and to the work of Van Gogh (who was relatively unknown at the time). Matisse's style changed radically, and he would later say "Russell was my teacher, and Russell explained colour theory to me." [ The Unknown Matisse...] , ABC Radio National, 8 June 2005]

Russell's daughter, Madame Jeanne Jouve, known in Paris as a singer, has stated that he offered a collection of work by himself and other members of the Impressionist movement to an Australian gallery, but lack of sympathy in Australia resulted in nothing being done. Russell returned to Sydney about 1920 or later and died there in 1930.

He was a friend of Auguste Rodin and Emmanuel Frémiet, and his wife's beauty is immortalized in Rodin's "Minerve sans Casque" and Fremiet's "Joan of Arc". Five of Russell's sons served in France during the 1914-18 war. His portrait of Van Gogh, painted about 1886-7, was at the Gemeenti museum at Amsterdam in 1938. Two water-colours and a small oil painting are in the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, and there is a drawing in the Adelaide collection.




*Dictionary of Australian Biography|First=John|Last=Russell|Link=
* Galbally, Ann: "The Art of John Peter Russell", Sun Books, Melbourne, 1977 ISBN 0-7251-0271-3
* Galbally, Ann E.: " [ Russell, John Peter (1858 - 1930)] ", Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, MUP, 1988, pp 483-484.

External links

* [ John Peter Russell at Australian Art]

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