John Russell / Australia/France 1858–1930 / Antibes (View from Hotel Jouve, plage de la Sallis, looking towards the medieval walls and the Grimaldi Castle, Antibes) 1892 / Oil on canvas / 60.7 x 73.9cm / Gift of Lady Trout through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation 1980 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art

John Russell
Antibes (View from Hotel Jouve, plage de la Sallis, looking towards the medieval walls and the Grimaldi Castle, Antibes)  1892

Not Currently on Display

John Russell’s seascapes, portraying the alternately stormy and calm aspects, are characteristically Impressionist in technique, high-keyed and preoccupied with light, colour and a sketch-like facture. The heavily textured paintings are worked in pure colour.

The complementary colours, placed one beside the other, resonate and convey an effect of immediacy. The result is an impression of nature at a particular moment.

Sydney-born John Russell was destined to join his family’s engineering firm, but at 18 he became preoccupied by art. Having gained financial independence on the death of his father, Russell travelled to London in 1881 to study painting. In 1885, as a student in Paris, he worked with and befriended several important European artists, including Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Auguste Rodin and Vincent Van Gogh.

A year later, Russell and his wife settled on Belle-Île, an island off the coast of Brittany, where he built a house in which he hosted many artist friends. Here, Russell also met and developed a close friendship with artist Claude Monet, who played a significant part in his artistic development. Side-by-side, the pair painted numerous landscapes of the dramatic coastline.

Following his wife’s death in 1908, Russell destroyed many of his works and left Belle-Île to travel extensively in Europe, painting mainly watercolours. Russell returned to Australia in 1921, where he painted very little until his death.

Discussion Questions

Debate the focus of Russell’s composition. Use visual language (elements and principles) to provide evidence that supports your point of view.

Classroom Activities

Using only cool and warm colours, without relying on outlines, paint an everyday object such as a bowl or a cup in two ways. Across your two studies reverse your use of cool and warm colours in representing highlights and shadows.