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 Walter Bowman Russell  (1871 - 1963)

About: Walter Bowman Russell
 

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Lived/Active: New York/Massachusetts      Known for: portrait bust, illustrator, sculptor

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Ad Code: 3
Walter Bowman Russell
from Auction House Records.
At the Seashore
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from Charles Hardy, Walpole MA, who is writing a biography of the artist:

Walter Bowman Russell was born in Boston May 19, 1871 and died in Waynesboro VA on his 92nd birthday, 1963. He left school at age 10 and became a musician. He put himself through the Massachusetts Normal School of Art and was self-supporting by 1891. He was taught by Ernest Major and Albert Munsell in Boston, and worked with Marcus Waterman briefly. He then went to Paris and studied under Jean Paul Laurens at the Academie Julien. From his youth he seemed to be at the right place at the right time; for example, he played for Paderewski and discussed an illustration job with Mark Twain in 1891-1892. After his marriage to Helen May Andrews he moved to NYC in 1894 where he spent the next 50 years.

His career as an illustrator culminated in a stint as art editor of "Collier's" 1897-1898; and in the Spanish-American War he was a correspondent for "Century" and "Collier's Weekly". At about the same time he enrolled in Howard Pyle's classes in Philadelphia. HIs allegorical painting "The Might of Ages" won recognition in the Turin Exposition in 1900.

From illustration he moved to portraiture, at first of children, later of notable adults. During this period he wrote three children's books. Through his friendship with President Theordore Roosevelt, he became involved in the breeding of horses.

Beginning in 1903, he began the project of building an artists's colony on W. 67th Street, specifically the Hotel DesArtistes. He is credited with the invention of the cooperative ownership plan. He built other structures in NYC and in Florida in the 1920s. During this time he was a founder of the NY Skating Club and became a champion skater.

By age 56 he had turned to sculpture, winning many important commissions, including portrait busts of Thomas Edison, George Gershwin, Paderewski, T. Roosevelt, Gabrilowitsch, Lipton, etc. Considered his masterpiece, the Mark Twain Memorial (1935) consists of 28 figures, all characters from Twain's novels, with a seated Twain in the center. He also sculpted the Four Freedoms from President FDR's concept of four angels facing the points of the compass.

At age 77 he married Lao Cook. His 1955 pastel portrait of her has been destroyed by the oil paper he used, but the charts and diagrams he drew late in life to illustrate his scientific theories have been collected and published.

See one authorized biography by Glenn Clark, "The Man Who Tapped The Secrets of the Universe," 1946.




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