top of page
John Russell (1879-1959)

John Russell (1879-1959)


"Guarding the Castel" 1926

Oil on Canvas

39" x 31" Image

48" x 40" Frame


Signed front bottom right  | Excellent Condition

Provenance: Private Hamilton Collection

  • Biography




    John Russell is a cosmopolite, in art as well as in Life. He was born near Hamilton, Ontario, received his first training at the Hamilton Art School but has lived most of his time abroad. But before going to Europe he joined the Arts Student League in New York and there he soon became a demonstrator in Drawing. Towards Paris, however, seemed to be his natural tended; and like Blair Bruce, another Hamilton youth who had preceded him and had won distinction, he crossed over and took a studio in the Latin quarter. That was twenty one years ago, and there, with the exception of periodical and sometimes prolonged visits to New York and Toronto he has remained ever since, making Paris his headquarters but painting in the provinces, in England and even in America.

    Russell is pre-eminently a figure and portrait painter, and although he ahs painted many charming landscapes and marine subjects, his highest recognition has been for work in other and more difficult field. He paints mostly in oil but has handles water-colours with great ease and is a pen and pencil draughtsman of uncommon ability.

    Although Russell had been living and painting at Paris he was not well known in Canada up to fifteen years ago except to a very few artists and friends. Amon the few was Edmund Morris who induced him to join the Canadian Art Club, Shortly after its inception. His work on being shown at a forthcoming Club exhibition, attracted much attention, and one of his large figure subjects was bought for the National Gallery of Canada. But he soon withdrew from the Club, and ever since, both at home and abroad, has pursued an independent course. Nevertheless he has been a frequent exhibitor in Canada, as well as abroad and has held two important private exhibitions, one in New York and the other in London. To both these exhibitions the metropolitan critics were unusually generous and at times even fulsome, in their appreciation of his art.

    Undoubtedly Russell’s success as an artist is due in Large measure to his natural artistic temperament, with the rare combination of hard work, and just enough aggressiveness to keep up enthusiasm to the point of accomplishment. For he is anything but a sluggard, and he works with a dexterity that is not often equaled. In art as well as in everything else he abhors compromise and he cannot tolerate anything that is hackneyed or not keenly attuned. Very frequently he paints still-life, not so much for the subject as for colour and arrangement. In this class he has made some interesting experiments, painting inanimate representations of living things such as porcelain dogs, bronze figures, or chinaware fighting cocks and making them fee alive. His Still-life paintings are highly decorative and as such they should be considered. …

    Since the death in 1924 of J. W. Morrice, John Russell is the Best Known Canadian Painter living in Paris. He exhibits there regularly, especially at the Salon, where a few Years ago he received a diploma for a nude subject entitled “The Blue Glass”. But whether his subject is a nude, a beautiful woman in fashionable attire, an urchin of the street, a scene in the Luxembourg Gardens, a gentleman of affairs, a stretch of sea or shore, a still-life study, or a simple bit of landscape, the stamp of real art is there, courageous, unhampered, almost arrogant.

    Source: 9. 116-119 “The fine Arts in Canada” by Newton MacTavish (exactly as published in 1925) Coles publishing company, Toronto, Canada. 1973.


You Might Also Like