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Collection

An image of Storm, Belle Ile by John Peter Russell

John Peter Russell

(Australia 16 Jun 1858 – 30 Apr 1930)

Title
Storm, Belle Ile
Place of origin
Belle-IleBrittanyFrance
Year
1905
Media category
Watercolour
Materials used
watercolour, gouache on heavy wove buff paper
Dimensions

25.5 x 32.5 cm sheet

Signature & date
Signed and dated l.l., pen and black ink "... NOV 4 1905 - JOHN RUSSELL-".
Credit
Jean Cameron Gordon Bequest Fund in memory of her mother Mary Gordon 2000
Accession number
531.2000
Location
Not on display
Further information

John Peter Russell was an expatriate most of his working life. A contemporary of Tom Roberts, he and Roberts travelled through Spain together in the early 1880s. Russell remained in Europe and settled at Belle Ile on the coast of Brittany. His friendship with van Gogh is now part of Australian art legend (his portrait of van Gogh is in the Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh in Amsterdam). He was an early influence on Matisse at Belle Ile, where Russell painted with Monet - this aspect of his work will feature in the Gallery's forthcoming Belle Ile exhibition. Several of Russell's pencil and watercolour studies also bring Paul Signac's work to mind (Signac, a follower of Seurat, had a strong theoretical basis to his work and influenced a number of painters in the 1890s and into the early twentieth-century). Sharing in their concerns regarding the development of a fresh approach to painting, Russell however remained a painter with strong Sydney affiliations and temperament - vigorous, colourful and outwardly optimistic.

There are a number of important published references to Russell's work, principal amongst which are Elizabeth Salter's book 'The Lost Impressionist', a biography of the Australian Painter John Peter Russell (London, 1976) and Anne Galbally's monograph and exhibition catalogue 'The Art of John Peter Russell' (Melbourne, 1977). The Melbourne dealer Joseph Brown staged a major exhibition of Russell's work in 1977 which greatly aided the appreciation and collecting of Russell's work in Australia and most recently there has been growing interest in Russell's work in France, which is reflected in two exhibitions at the Musée des Jacobins at Morlaix - 'Les peintres de Belle-Ile-en-mer, sur les pas de Monet' in 1994 and 'John Peter Russell, un impressionniste australien' in 1997. The first volume of a two part study of Matisse by Frances Spurling, published in 1998, also underlines the critical part that Russell played in Matisse's early development at Belle Ile in the 1880s.

'Storm, Belle Ile' 1905 is closely related to a major painting 'Mer agitée: tempête Belle Ile' formerly in the Behan collection, Brisbane. It is a powerful work, poetic, reductive and uncompromising in its painterly effect.

Australian Art Department 2000

Bibliography (1)

Ursula Prunster (Curator), Belle-Île: Monet, Russell & Matisse in Brittany, Sydney, 2001, 103 (colour illus.). cat.no. 32

Exhibition history (2)

Belle-Île: Monet, Russell & Matisse in Brittany:

Australian impressionists in France, Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne, 15 Jun 2013–06 Oct 2013