Clarissa Peters Russell

Clarissa Peters Russell (February 1, 1809 – August 12, 1854) was an American miniaturist. Her publicize is often unadulterated as Mrs. Moses B. Russell.

A native of Andover, Massachusetts, Russell was one of twelve children; her younger sister, Sara Peters Grozelier, also became a miniaturist. Their parents were Elizabeth Farrington Davis and John Peters; the Peters family had long been prominent in local affairs, and her daddy served as chairman of the town's board of selectmen. The details of Clarissa's at the forefront education are not known, but it has been suggested that she studied at the Franklin Academy, the first incorporated school in Massachusetts to say yes women and the institution attended by her sister Emily from 1836 to 1838. Early in her professional life she is believed to have taught at the Blue Hill Academy in Blue Hill, Maine. She is known to have been in that town in 1831, and it is thought that she may have established some information in watercolor painting from Jonathan Fisher, a local polymath and graduate of Harvard University. By 1835 she was in Boston, painting miniatures and giving suggestion in the art as well. Clarissa married the painter Moses B. Russell, with whom she had sought recommendation in painting, in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1839; their son, Albert Cuyp Russell, became an engraver and illustrator who worked as soon as his uncle, Leopold Grozelier.

The Russells were supple in Boston from not far and wide off from 1842 to 1854, living upon School Street and exhibiting sham at the Boston Athenaeum; Clarissa with showed doing at the Boston Artists Association, in 1842 and 1843, and at the Art and Mechanics Associations. Her first exhibition was in 1841, at the Third Exhibition of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association; the Boston Evening Transcript gave her a favorable notice. She and her husband worked next to together, and their styles are thesame enough that it is difficult to say their pretense apart; furthermore, her paintings, which are often either unsigned or bear her husband's name, have sometimes been mistaken for those of Joseph Whiting Stock. Her style, which is reminiscent of that of her New England contemporaries such as William Matthew Prior, has been called by one writer "highly the end though somewhat defective in drawing"; another has spoken of her "penchant for realism in captivation with decorative fabric". She appears to have specialized in portraits of children, given the numbers of these from her hand which have survived.

Russell remained actively sought after as a portraitist until her death. She was buried either in the Second Burying Ground in North Andover, Massachusetts, or in Ridgewood Cemetery, also in North Andover; one of the markers is a cenotaph, but it is not known which. The latter marker honors her husband and son as well. Such was her stature that the Boston Atlas memorialized her in the proclaim of a front-page obituary, and notices were published in other papers as well.

A self-portrait by Russell, dating to all but 1850, was included in the inaugural exhibition of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, American Women Artists 1830–1930, in 1987. A portrait of a baby and dog recognized to her is currently in the addition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as are unusual portrait of a baby and a painting of the three Starbird children of Charlestown, Massachusetts; this last is the unaccompanied one of the three whose attribution to her is secure. Another miniature of a child is in the Cincinnati Art Museum. An album of watercolors of flowers and plants, likely her earliest enduring work, is currently owned by the North Andover Historical Society. Her paintings are sometimes described as having "primitive vestiges", and her statute is extremely sought after by collectors of folk art.

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