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Guildford Borough Council : New Online Exhibition

Guildford Borough Council : New Online Exhibition

Our new online exhibition of portraits by renowned Guildford-born artist, John Russell RA (1745 – 1806) is now open on our website. 

The exhibition features the portraits Russell painted of women and girls. It sets his sitters against the backdrop of being an 18th century female. Specifically, in their roles as wives, mothers, daughters, and as objects of curiosity, admiration or desire.  

Councillor James Steel, Lead Councillor for Environment said:  

“Through these vivid and rich portraits, Russell introduces us to the life and people that surrounded him in 1700s. However, what has captured my attention was the portrait of his wife and child, and the skilful way he illustrates the emotional bond between them. I hope you enjoy this online taster show before enjoying the actual paintings in the  Russell exhibition planned for 2022 at the gallery.”  

Successful pastel artist and Painter to King George III, Russell was one of the leading portrait painters of his time.  

Guildford Borough Heritage Service houses the largest collection of John Russell portraits in the UK. Of the 35 John Russell portraits in Guildford Borough Art collection 19 depict women and girls.  

The research on the works by John Russell are an outcome of a fellowship funded by the Understanding British Portraits group, undertaken by Guildford Heritage Services Curatorial Assistant Gemma Haigh titled The Significance of being Female: Female Sitters in Portraits by John Russell in the Guildford Heritage Services Collection.  

The exhibition will open at Guildford House Gallery next year and we encourage visitors to come and see these magnificent paintings in real life. In the meantime, the Gallery is temporarily closed while maintenance work is carried out and we hope to re-open at the beginning of 2022.  

 View Guildford’s Borough Art online to find out more about Russell’s and other artists works in the collection.