Adorable instant ancestor! Pastel painting attributed to John Russell RA

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This gorgeous pastel is just amazing. We love her smile and the lovely expression in her eyes, and we feel that she will lift the mood and improve the energy in any room. We enjoyed writing a special blog post about her,  provide reference material on the painter John Russell and how to care for and transport a pastel painting.  (Blog - Black Hat Gallery)

Unfortunately, we don't know who she is. As such, you can claim her as one of your most beautiful ancestors.

The pastel itself measures 61cm x 46cm, whilst the frame measures 86cm by 69cm. As described in the blog, we had her reframed as her old frame (although beautiful), was not suitable for a pastel painting, which are very delicate. Pastel is made by mixing powdered pigments with a binder (usually gum arabic), shaping this mixture into sticks, and leaving it to dry. These crayons or sticks of pigment are very crumbly and their colored powder adheres only loosely to paper, which was often roughened in advance to create a surface for the material to cling to. Works in pastel are thus fragile, as movement can loosen the powder. Nevertheless, pastel paintings are often more spontaneous and vivacious than oil and water colors.

John Russell RA (29 March 1745 – 20 April 1806) was an English painter renowned for his portrait work in oil and pastels, and as a writer and teacher of painting techniques. He is considered to be one of the most prolific pastellists in eighteenth-century Britain. Having studied under the pastellist Francis Cotes (1726–1770), Russell produced a treatise, Elements of Painting with Crayons, in 1772 and was appointed “Crayon Painter to the Prince of Wales” in 1785.

Amazingly, he appears to have made use of only fourteen pigments, which he blended on steel blue paper prepared with an even deeper blue ground. He blended his pastels together to obtain a wide range of hues and tones. Looking at his work, the deep blue background features often as the background in his work.

The paper background was glued on linen for greater stability. Although graced with royal patronage and able to command very high prices for his work, the bulk  of Russell’s portraits were executed for the wealthy middle classes, often in commemoration of marriage or children. Although John Russell kept a diary all his life, this gives little insight in to the identity of his sitters, but mainly reflected on his religious life.

If you would like to have the price for this outstanding work of art or have any questions, please give us a call or send us an email.