Russell 'In the afternoon' 1891 (detail) oil on canvas 65.1 x 65.4 cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, purchased with funds provided by the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales 2016 Photo: AGNSW, Mim Stirling
Sarah Turnbull, author of the best-selling memoir Almost French, first came across the paintings of Australian Impressionist John Russell, when she was living in France. Now, with the Art Gallery of NSW showing a retrospective of his work, Sarah talks about the artist’s remarkable story and her research, which has taken her from Paris and Belle île to Sydney.
In the 1880s, John Russell became one of the first Australian artists to settle in Paris, where he quickly gained the respect and friendship of giants of the French art world, including Van Gogh, Monet, Rodin and Matisse. Yet there was no recognition for the artist when, finally, he returned to Sydney.
“Russell’s story is both thrilling and poignant”, explains the author. “Central to it are themes that are important in my own life – France, notions of home and belonging, creativity. My experiences living in Paris and then moving back to Australia made me curious about his.”
Don’t miss this insightful, personal talk about Australia’s forgotten French Impressionist.