Australian artist John Russell (1858–1930), an active and influential member of the French nineteenth-century avant garde, was a close friend of Vincent van Gogh and Auguste Rodin, taught impressionist color theory to Henri Matisse, and dined with Claude Monet on Belle Isle. His work held in the collections of the Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum, the Musee d'Orsay and Musée Rodin in Paris, and the National Gallery London, as well as the National Gallery of Australia and the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
Significant new research brings Russell to life as both a person and an artist, and his work deserves serious reconsideration. Born in Sydney, he was destined to be an engineer in the highly successful family businesses, but after inheriting money he pursued his passion to be an artist, moving to London in 1881 to study, and then to France, where he formed a close friendship with van Gogh.
In 1888 he married Marianna Antoinetta Mattiocco (later a model for Rodin) and they settled at Belle Isle off the coast of Brittany, in a grand home, Le Chateau Anglais, where they hosted many artists, including Rodin, over the ensuing decades. Following Marianna's death in 1908, Russell left Belle Isle, travelling in France, Italy, and then to England and New Zealand before returning to Watsons Bay in Sydney where he lived until his death in 1930.
About the Editor
Wayne Tunnicliffe is head curator of Australian art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and curator of the John Russell exhibition. Contributors: Anne Galbally, Hilary Spurling, Elena Taylor, Paula Dredge, Jackie Dunn, Anne Gerard Austin, Anne Ryan, and Nick Yelverton