New Zealand landscape
Pine tree, Brigham’s Creek, New Zealand

Born Sydney, Australia 1858, lived Europe 1882–1921, died Sydney 1930


John Peter Russell studied at the Slade School of Art, London (1881–84) and the Académie Cormon, Paris (1885–88), during which time he travelled widely in Europe on painting tours. Outgoing and warm, Russell was highly regarded by his contemporaries. He befriended many painters including Vincent van Gogh, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Auguste Rodin. Russell married Rodin’s favourite model, Marianna Antoinetta Mattiocco, in 1888.

Claude Monet was a great influence on Russell and the two spent the summer of 1886 painting together. Russell also introduced Henri Matisse to the work of van Gogh and post-impressionism during 1896–97, leading to a dramatic shift in Matisse’s subsequent work.

Russell’s portrait of van Gogh (1886) is held at the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam. New Zealand landscape (c.1924) shows his delicate handling of the watercolour medium and his soft, impressionist palette.

John Peter Russell was known as a colourist and for his landscape paintings. His reputation has been revived in recent years with inclusion in The Impressionists: Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay, National Gallery of Victoria, 2004; and Belle Ile: Monet, Russell and Matisse in Brittany; Art Gallery of New South Wales and Queensland Art Gallery (2002). His work is represented in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, the National Gallery of Australia, most major state galleries, and the University of Queensland Art Museum.