RUSSELL, John (1858-1931)

RUSSELL, John (1858-1931)
was the son of John Russell, ironfounder, and a nephew of Sir Peter Nicol Russell (q.v.). He was born at Darlinghurst, Sydney, in 1858, 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-Isle off the coast of Brittany. He had met Vincent Van Gogh in Paris and formed a friendship with him, and Monet often worked with him 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. Van Gogh also spoke highly of his work, but Russell did not attempt to make his pictures known. His 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 1931. He was a friend of Rodin and Fremiet, 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 at Melbourne, and there is a drawing in the Adelaide collection.
L'Amour de L'Art, September 1938; The Burlington Magazine, September 1938; The Herald, Melbourne, 15 April 1939; Bulletin of the National Gallery of South Australia, December 1939; W. Moore, The Story of Australian Art; R. H. Croll, Tom Roberts, p. 10.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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