1867 – 1956
Salmon and creel
Oil on board
Early to mid 20th century
Frame size: 15½ x 23¾ inches / 39 x 60 cm
Stock number: BL9691/0718
A wonderful and vibrant still life of three salmon beside a fish creel, in a burr maple veneered frame with gold slip.
James Russell 1867-1956, painted under the name ‘J B Russell’. He was born in Edinburgh and following the death of his mother from smallpox, his father, John Bucknell Russell, took the family to an island in the Forth to escape the plague. It was around this time that his father was commissioned by the Duke of Richmond and Gordon to go to Fochabers, Morayshire, in the North of Scotland, to carve in wood and paint every salmon over the weight of forty pounds caught in the River Spey.
James followed in his father’s footsteps as an artist and became practiced in the elaborate task of painting scales onto carved fish. His main interests throughout his life were fishing and poaching and he always remained ‘a bit of a lad’. He would poach almost every night for rabbits and fished all around his local areas, never gaining permission or a licence to do so.
After his father’s death he moved with his family to Glasgow at the turn of the 20th century, and later to Roxburghshire in 1918. He continued to paint fish not on wood but in both oils and watercolours. He painted until the end of his life and his grandson recalls how the house “was full of the smells of oil paints and gigantic pictures of fish on flat canvasses were all around.”
With thanks to a piece written by his grandson Dr James Russell, Edinburgh, Scotland