Russel, Theodore (DNB00)

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RUSSEL, ROUSSEEL, or RUSSELL, THEODORE (1614–1689), portrait-painter, born in London, was baptised at the Dutch church, Austin Friars, on 9 Oct. 1614. He was the son of Nicasius Rousseel (or Russel), a goldsmith, of Bruges, jeweller to James I and Charles I, who settled in London about 1567, and on 21 April 1590 was married at the Dutch church, Austin Friars, to his first wife, Jacomina Wils of Meessene; by her he had a family, including a son John, who is probably identical with a Jan Rossel or Russel resident at Mortlake from 1629 to 1645, and probably connected with the tapestry works there. Nicasius married as his second wife, at the Dutch church, on 27 Nov. 1604, Clara Jansz, daughter of Cornelis and Johanna Jansz, and sister of Cornelis Jansz (Janssen or Jonson) van Ceulen [q. v.], the famous portrait-painter; by her also he had a numerous family, to one of whom (Isaac, born in May 1616) the famous miniature-painter, Isaac Oliver, stood godfather, while to another (Nicasius, born in January 1618–19) Cornelis Janssen and Isaac Oliver's widow stood sponsors.

Theodore Russel was brought up under his father, by whom he was admitted into the Dutch church in 1640, and afterwards by his uncle, Cornelis Janssen, with whom he lived for about nine years; afterwards he lived as assistant and copyist for about a year with Vandyck. He gained some repute as a portrait-painter, and copied many of Vandyck's portraits on a smaller scale. A portrait of Sir John Suckling, copied in this way, is now in the National Portrait Gallery. Several of his copies were in the royal collections, and among the nobility by whom he was patronised were the Earls of Essex and Holland. Russel resided in Blackfriars, married in January 1649, and died in 1689, leaving a family. According to Vertue, he was ‘a lover of Ease and his Bottle.’

Antony Russel (1663?–1743), portrait-painter, son of Theodore Russel, carried on the tradition of portrait-painting, and is said to have studied under John Riley [q. v.] A portrait by him of the famous Dr. Sacheverell, painted in 1710, was engraved in mezzotint by John Smith. He was an intimate friend of George Vertue [q. v.], who engraved some of his portraits, and he supplied Vertue with many biographical notes concerning artists of the seventeenth century, which are now embodied in Walpole's ‘Anecdotes of Painting.’ He died in London in 1743, aged about eighty.

[Vertue's MS. Diaries (Brit. Mus. Add. MS. 23068, &c.); Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting, ed. Wornum; Moens's Registers of the Dutch Church, Austin Friars, and the French Church, Threadneedle Street; information from W. J. C. Moens, esq., F.S.A.]

L. C.