RUSSELL, Charles J W

1808 - 1874

Charles James William Russell, was born in London on 25 August 1808 and baptised at St Mary's Church, Lewisham on 15 October 1810, son of John Charles Russell (1773-1848) and his wife Sophia Louisa née Rosser (c1780-1860) who married in London on 9 April 1801. He emigrated to Australia and was a farmer and in 1842 he initialled a watercolour of a rural scene of early Melbourne, 'Collins Street East', depicting a settler, his wife and two children outside a solid farmhouse, greeting two young hunters. Having abandoned farming he returned to England and where he was a civil engineer at Ipswich and where he married at St Mary Tower Church on 27 May 1847, Elizabeth Castle, eldest daughter of the late Edward Castle of Rochester, Kent. He exhibited from Ipswich at the Royal Academy in 1848 'Chapel Viaduct on the Colchester and Stour Valley Railway'. The gold rush returned him to Victoria, where he recorded some of the shops and shopkeepers at the Bendigo diggings. His watercolour sketches include 'Butcher’s Gully, August 22, 1853' and 'Mr. H. Hinge, Blacksmith’s Shop, Bendigo, Sept. 5 1853' (both La Trobe Library), his 'London Store and Coffee House, F. Talbot, Sept. 4 1853' which has a tent in the background of the painting bearing the sign inscription 'Russell ornamental writer’ with Russell in the foreground engaged in sketching two customers. Charles married secondly at Bedfordshire, Victoria, Australia in 1873, Emma Sarah Casey and he died in Australia in 1874.

A group of pictures by the late Charles J. W. Russell, depicting scenes of the early forties in Victoria, will form an art contribution from Queensland to be lent to the public library, museum and the National Gallery of Victoria, in connection with the exhibition of early Victorian art to be staged for the centenary celebrations [1934]. They are in the possession of Miss A. F. D. Barton of Wynnum, whose mother, Mrs Wicksteed Barton (nee Fanny Dumas) is a niece of the late Charles Russell. In five water colours the artist has faithfully reproduced typical Australian scenery. The old home of the Russell's at Little Bendigo portrays the stone house on the roadside. It is signed by Russell, and dated 1842.