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John Russell

Portrait of a Boy with Toy Gun

The Painting

A pastel measuring 23¼" x 18". Provenance: Sir Francis Winnington Bart., Stanford Court, Worcestershire.

About the Artist

John Russell RA (1745-1806) was born in Guildford, Surrey. At an early age he was placed by his father under the tuition of Francis Cotes RA (1726-1770), one of the founders and first Academicians of the Royal Academy in 1768. Among the most accomplished and fashionable crayon portraitists of his period, Russell was appointed ‘Crayon Painter’ to the Prince of Wales (later George IV) in 1790. Although based in London, he made annual trips around the country and produced highly-coloured works, often of children and to a scale more associated with oil paintings.

The Subject

Portrait of a boy holding a toy gun. This charming boy is wearing a white frock with a blue sash, as was the custom in the 18th century, and a hat trimmed with blue feathers. He is portrayed against a landscape backdrop. The backdrop and the toy gun are probably allusions to his status as future heir to a country estate.