Part of the French avant-garde of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, John Russell was a close friend of Vincent van Gogh and Auguste Rodin, taught impressionist colour theory to Henri Matisse and dined with Claude Monet. Yet history has largely forgotten Russell, who was a key member of this ground-breaking group of artists during one of the most exhilarating periods in art history.
Bringing together 120 paintings, drawings and watercolours – including a number of works by his contemporaries – this major retrospective is the first survey of Russell’s work in 40 years. It offers fresh perspectives on French impressionism, reintroducing Russell’s extraordinary painting to today’s audiences.
The exhibition presents the breadth of Russell’s art from his studies in London and Paris, through impressionism and experimentation with pure colour, to his later fauve-like luminous watercolours. It features significant works that were only rediscovered recently and are exhibited publicly for the first time.
Many of the works – which include loans from the Van Gogh Museum, Musée d’Orsay, Musée Rodin, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Harvard Art Museums and public and private collections in Australia, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom – have not been shown for decades and some never before.