Callow, Connemara

Gyrth Russell

Canadian ( b.1892 - d.1970 )

Callow, Connemara

  • Watercolour
  • Signed lower right

Image size 5.9 inches x 13.4 inches ( 15cm x 34cm )
Frame size 12.8 inches x 19.9 inches ( 32.5cm x 50.5cm )

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Sold by Big Sky Fine Art; this original watercolour by Gyrth Russell.
The work is presented and supplied in a frame dating from the 1990s, mounted and behind glass.

Considered one of the best coastal painters of the 20th century, Gyrth Russell was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia in April 1892. He was the youngest of 8 children. His father was a Canadian MP and a Supreme High Court Judge for Nova Scotia.

At the age of fourteen, Russell began his artistic career at Halifax School of Art, and quickly graduated to the School of Art at Boston, Massachusetts. His first job was as a draughtsman in the Public Works Department of Canada, in Halifax. It was during this period he saw and sketched the cable ship Mackay Bennett returning to her Halifax Station, her decks piled high with coffins containing bodies found after the Titanic Disaster.

In 1911 Russell left Canada to study at the Academie Julian and Academie Calorossi in Paris. In 1914 at the outbreak of War, he left France for London where he was commissioned, under the command of Lord Beaverbrook, as an official War Artist for the Canadian Sector, and spent most of 1918 in Northern France painting the landscapes and coasts travelled by the Canadian military during the conflict. During the course of the First World War he worked with amongst others, Augustus John, William Orpen & Frank Brangwyn, who greatly influenced him. Many of his earliest works are of landscapes and coasts travelled by the Canadian military in the conflict. During the War Russell also made etchings and poster prints for sale to help popularize and support the war effort abroad. He took part in the Canadian War Memorial Exhibition in London in 1919.

Between the Wars, Russell earned his living as an artist in film studios, designing Railway Posters, Lecturing and Writing. He also illustrated books on the geography of Nova Scotia and Western Britain.

Russell enjoyed considerable success between the Wars, exhibiting extensively at the major galleries, and was elected to membership of the Royal Society of British Artists, the Royal Institute of Painters n Watercolours, the Royal Institute of Oil Painters and the Royal Society of Marine Artists as well as being an active member of the Langham Sketch club.

In the Second World War Russell became an acting Petty Officer in the Royal Navy Patrol Service and met and married his wife, Ronagh.

In 1944, bombed out of London, Russell and his wife moved to Yorkshire, where apart from continuing his work as an artist, he became a regular visiting lecturer at Doncaster School of Art. In 1953 he moved for the last time, to Penarth in South Wales, where he continued to work until his death on 8th December 1970.

Whilst in South Wales his talents as an artist and a lecturer were as much in demand as ever. He became an active member of both the Watercolour Society of Wales and the South Wales Art Society.

Gyrth Russell was a prolific and clever Artist whose works were much sought after during his lifetime and has become increasingly more so since his death. His work is represented in several public collections.

This original watercolour shows a dwelling in the village of Callow in the Irish county of Connemara. The dwelling is a modest one story white-washed croft with a brown tiled roof, and a small chimney. To the left of the painting is a single gable wall, all that remains of another former croft. In the foreground are small green fields, separated by hand built stone walls. In the background, we see distant purple mountains rising up to the bright blue sky. Overall, this is a very pleasant scene.