John Russell (English, 1745–1806)
Pastel on paper, laid down on canvas
23 7/8 x 17 3/4 in. (60.6 x 45.1 cm)
Gift of Geoffrey Shurlock, 1967 (67.132)
Henrietta Ann Jane Russell (1775–1849) was the sixth of twelve children born between 1770 and 1785 to John Russell and his wife Hannah Faden (1745–1816); she was the eldest child to survive to maturity. She is shown here at the age of twenty-five, around the time of her marriage to Robert Shurlock (1779–1847) of Chertsey, near Guildford, Surrey. The Museum owns his portrait by Russell (67.131) as well. Henrietta and Robert had fourteen children, the first of whom, Ann, is portrayed here. A brown paper label on the old backing notes that the baby was added into the composition by Russell several years after the portrait was first painted.
Ann was Russell's first grandchild and it is easy to locate in this painting a new grandfather's pride, from her pink cheeks and wet lips, to her pudgy arms and double chin. The pastel medium lends itself to the textures of the gauzy fabrics worn by both mother and baby, as well as to the more precise detailing of the lace. Russell often painted his sitters without showing their hands, and the hands here attest to some compositional difficulty: the fingers of the baby's right hand are unusually splayed, while her mother's hand and forearm are awkwardly elongated. This portrait was given to the Museum in 1967 by the sitter's great-grandson.