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John Peter Russell

Marioccia, 1887


Catalogue number: 3

oil on panel

27.00 x 21.50

with initials 'J R' in pencil. at a later date, u.r.; inscribed in artist's hand verso "Marioccia / Sicily / Taormina" and "Offert a mon ami / Monsieur Gilbert de Knyff / avec tote ma reconnaissance / pour ce qu'il a fiat pour / l'oeuvre de mon père et (son nom?} / John Russell / [signed] Jeanne Russell Jouve. (trans: 'Offered to my friend Mr Gilbert de Knyff in recognition of all he has done for the work of my father (and his name?) John Russell signed] Jeanne Russell Jouve


The artist's daughter, Jeanne Russell Jouve; to Gilbert de Knyff;
Joseph Brown Gallery, 1981;
Private collection, Melbourne, since then.


September Exhibition 1981, Joseph Brown Gallery, no. 54 (as 'The Seamstress' and as initialled and dated 'JR 12');
Modern Australian Painting, Charles Nodrum Gallery, 17 March - 9 April 2011, no 1;
The work is scheduled for inclusion in John Russell: Australia’s French Impressionist, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 21 July – 11 November, 2018

Literature & references:

Ann Galbally, The Art of John Peter Russell, Sun Books, Melbourne, 1977, plates V, XIV, XV and 19 respectively, for the first three (and XVI for Marianna) - and Deutscher and Hackett, Melbourne, August 2007 Sale, Lot 48, for the last.


The earlier (Joseph Brown) title would appear purely descriptive and the inscription on reverse allows a firm date for the painting when the artist travelled to Southern Italy with his wife and family. 'Marioccia' is being taken as the probable name of the sitter, though we do not know who she may have been; she appears too old to be Mariane (his wife) and too young to be his mother-in-law - and the facial features don't correspond either. The initials are not completely clear and the original date of 1912 probably arose from mis-reading the 'R' for '12' In the late 1880's, Russell produced a small, but memorable body of portraits, of which the best known is his celebrated head of Vincent Van Gogh, 1886 (Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh, Amsterdam). Other impressive examples include the Portrait of Dr William Maloney, 1887 (NGV, Melbourne), the Self Portrait, 1886 (Musee Rodin, Paris), the Portrait of M. Fabian, 1887 (Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University) and the Portrait of Dodge Macknight, c. 1888 (Private Collection, Melbourne). The above work is unusual in being of a woman (the 1887 Portrait head of Marianna is notably sketchier in execution). Our thanks to Dr Ann Galbally for her help in cataloguing this work, which was not included in her 1977 monograph as its whereabouts were not then known.

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Since its establishment in 1984, the Charles Nodrum Gallery’s exhibition program embraces a diversity of media and styles - from painting, sculpture & works on paper to graphics and photography; from figurative, geometric, gestural, surrealist & social comment to installation & conceptually based work.