On the first day of Spring I visited the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) to see the works of Australian impressionist painter John Russell. The walk to the gallery was full of sunshine, joggers and tourists welcoming in the warmer weather after the sudden wintery turn that the month of August presented to Sydneysiders. I enjoyed walking under the large and shady Moreton Bay and Port Jackson fig trees in the domain, as well as the gardens where I stopped to take a few photos...including one of man, who even though he was surrounded by the beautiful Spring garden, was far more focused on his mobile phone (!)..
Sydney-born impressionist John Russell spent 40 years in Europe, where he cultivated friendships with late 19th-century and early 20th centuries luminaries Claude Monet, Auguste Rodin, Henri Matisse, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Vincent van Gogh. While honing his craft in fin-de-siècle Europe, Russell clung to an Australian artistic sensibility that was at once colourful and defined by a love for nature (he spent half his European sojourn on a remote French island).
The works in the AGNSW presents the first major exhibition of Russell’s work in 40 years, bringing together 120 paintings, drawings and watercolours from art collections around globally.
Although Russell's more trademark works are those of the French coast painted in strong, deep blues, I preferred his figurative works completed in a warmer palette, such as Mrs Russell among the flowers in the garden of Goulphar, Belle-ile (1907) and Peonies and head of a woman (c1887), so much so, I may have to make a second visit! - and this time with my sketch book and picnic rug to capture those beautiful trees on my way to the gallery!