Artist DNA: John Peter Russell, Monet, Van Gogh and Matisse
In 1897 and 1898 Henri Matisse visited Belle Île a remote island off of the Brittany coast. John Peter Russell, an Australian artist who was living there, introduced him to impressionism and to the work of Van Gogh (who was relatively unknown at the time). Matisse’s style changed radically, and he would later say “Russell was my teacher, and Russell explained color theory to me. [Wikipedia & Hillary Spurling, "The Unknown Matisse"]
Russell had been friends with Monet, who also came to Belle Isle to paint. But he is perhaps best known for his portrait of Van Gogh. He believed in Van Gogh and had several of his drawings.
According to Hilary Spurling, at some point the Australian gave Matisse one of his Van Gogh drawings — something that he had never done before, and would never do again, which “suggests that he found in no one else the depth and strength of Matisse’s response.”
Letter from VanGogh to Russell:http://vangoghletters.org/vg/letters/let627/letter.html
If you go:
Books of Interest: