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Museum Reopens With Portraits by Guildford’s Own Royal Artist John Russell

Published on: 21 May, 2021
Updated on: 21 May, 2021

Poster features John Webbe Weston of Sutton Place

Guildford museum reopens next week with an exhibition dedicated to the stunning work of local resident and Royal Academician John Russell (1745-1806).

The “John Russell, A Georgian Portrait Painter at Work” display opens on Wednesday, May 26 at 12pm and runs throughout the summer until October 9, showing his working practices through a small selection of his pastel portraits.

The display includes activities for families, inviting visitors to look more closely at the paintings and painting a portrait of their own. As with all Guildford museum exhibitions, entry is free.

Dr Samuel Villiese of Worplesdon one of the quirky local characters captured by John Russell. Guildford Borough Heritage Collection

Russell, appointed painter to King George III, was renowned for pastel portraiture in the late 1700s.

He was born in Guildford in 1745 and attended the Royal Grammar School. His father was town Mayor five times.

The artist captured images of people from all walks of life, from quirky local characters, sober citizens, celebrities of the day and royalty. Guildford holds one of the largest collections of John Russell’s work in the UK.

Cllr John Redpath

Cllr John Redpath (R4GV, Holy Trinity), lead for Economy, said: “It’s fantastic that we’re able to welcome our residents back to the museum in person, and who better to open with than John Russell, a leading portrait painter of his time. His application of colours using dry pastels is simply magnificent.

“Let’s rediscover the creative side within us and support our local venues as they reopen. We look forward to seeing you. Half-term provides a good chance to bring the family for a visit and enjoy lunch in town or a picnic in one of our award-winning green spaces.”

Gavin Morgan

Gavin Morgan, of Guildford Heritage Forum, said: “This is just the sort of exhibition Guildford Museum needs, a local subject and a fascinating character.

“Not many people know of John Russell but he has been compared with other artists of his time, including Gainsborough. He left a diary full of detail about the town. I do hope this exhibition will start bringing people back to the museum.”

Guildford Museum, Quarry Street Image GBC

The museum is housed in beautiful, historic buildings next to the Castle Grounds. The exhibitions are free to visit and include a variety of changing displays, plus a permanent collection of objects telling the story of our borough and surrounding areas.

The museum is open weekly from Wednesday until Saturday, 12 noon till 4pm, with a programme of activities for different ages and interests. For more information on the exhibitions and other programmes please contact or follow on social media.

Later this year, a partner to the museum exhibition, a show entitled “Georgian Women, Portraits by John Russell” will open at Guildford House Gallery.

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test One Response to Museum Reopens With Portraits by Guildford’s Own Royal Artist John Russell

  1. Janet Moorhouse Reply

    May 21, 2021 at 5:21 pm

    Is a visit to Guildford Museum easy for visitors with mobility problems? Where would I park my car and is there a lift in the building?

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