Lowell Libson & Jonny Yarker Ltd

  • Pastel
  • 23 ½ × 17 ¼ inches · 596 × 438 mm
  • Signed and dated: 'J Russell/ fecit 1772' (lower right)

Collections

  • Russell sale, Christie’s, 14 February, 1807: ‘John Russell, Esq., R.A. deceased, crayon painter to His Majesty, the Prince of Wales, and Duke of York; and brought from his late Dwelling in Newman Street’, lot 92, ‘St Peter’, bt. Thompson (£1.13s);    
  • Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 25th September 1980, lot 113;
  • Private collection, UK, 2016.

Literature

  • Martin Postle, 'Patriarchs, prophets and paviours: Reynolds's images of old age', The Burlington Magazine, vol. cxxx, no. 1027, October 1988, pp. 739-40, fig. 9;
  • Martin Postle, Sir Joshua Reynolds: The Subject Pictures, Cambridge, 1995, p.136, repr.;
  • Neil Jeffares, Dictionary of pastellists before 1800, online edition, J.64.2928. 

John Russell was admitted to the Royal Academy in March 1770, at the same time as Daniel Gardner. 

The nascent Academy Schools were still establishing their teaching structures, but central to the syllabus were the twin components of drawing after the antique and from life models. By 1772 Russell had already been awarded a silver medal and progressed to the Life Academy, where he produced this remarkable pastel study of George White. White was the most famous model employed by the Royal Academy and prominent artists’ model in the second half of the eighteenth century. A paviour – or street mender – by profession White had been discovered by Joshua Reynolds, who in turn introduced him to the Academy. Russell’s striking head study demonstrates his early abilities as a portraitist and pastellist, at the same time demonstrating his involvement in the Academy’s preoccupation with promoting history painting.