Painting of the Month: The Garden, Longpré-les-Corps-Saints by John Russell

This month’s featured painting is The Garden, Longpré-les-Corps-Saints by John Russell. It’s a simple and pleasant landscape by one of my favorite unsung Australian artists.

John Russell, The Garden, Longpré-les-Corps-Saints, 1887
John Russell, The Garden, Longpré-les-Corps-Saints, 1887

(Click here to download the full-resolution photo of the painting.)

Brief details about the painting:

  • Oil on Canvas
  • 28 x 47 in (73 x 120 cm)
  • Completed: 1887
  • Current Location and Ownership: Unknown

Your Thoughts?

Use this as an opportunity to test your ability to analyze master paintings. In the comments below, share what you think are the top 3 most important aspects of the painting. These could relate to areas such as composition, color, value, progress, brushwork, subject, or symbolism. Once you have done that, you can compare your thoughts with my own in the drop-down below.

Click here to see my thoughts.

  • There’s an interesting play between the tree and the rest of the painting. The tree is conveyed with dark purples, hard edges, and thin lines for its branches. The rest of the painting is soft and flat. This is a contrast in both value (dark against light), structure (lines and forms against flat shapes), and edge (hard against soft). Remember, you can pack more of a punch by overlapping multiple points of contrast like this.
  • There’s also a play between the warm and busy area around the focal point and the cool and quiet area in the background. This is a contrast in temperature and detail.
  • Russell demonstrates some classic Impressionist brushwork, with distinct strokes and scumbling rather than blending and fine rendering. This type of brushwork will ensure your painting looks like a painting.
  • Notice how the tree trunk tapers off towards the bottom. It gets slightly lighter and cooler. This creates a subtle link between the tree and the surrounding landscape (the lighter and cooler colors are more similar to the surrounding colors).

10 thoughts on “Painting of the Month: The Garden, Longpré-les-Corps-Saints by John Russell”

  1. Beautiful painting, but it is not a still life, it a growing nature painting. The front three is in flower, the background trees are yellow, that suggests spring color explosion. The front tree trunk dominates the composition, and the background trees help to stabilize the surrounding. The color variation from olive green in the grass, to yellow in the background trees and patches of light green sky give fluidity to the painting in spite of the vertical composition. And all cries SPRING.

  2. I feel a strong impact from the background yellow describing a curve from left to right behind the dark tree, I love the contrast between the upper half with the fascinating arabesque of branches and the lower area with the well placed vertical strokes of the tree trunks. Everything forming a beautiful scene.

  3. The use of light on the background trees(if that was the intent) is awesome.
    The yellow color is very rich.
    Overall painting is very easing and draws me into all corners following the various limbs.

  4. What really struck me about this painting straight away is the depth that has been achieved by subtly layering unsaturated colours (especially greens and purples) in the background. It is interesting that the the verticals and branches appear to have been deliberately cropped, suggesting this is not a typical garden landscape. To me, these invite the viewer to look at shapes between and beyond them and it is emphasised by the sharper detail and stronger colour values used in the foreground. The way the prominent tree outstretches its branches to form a kind of barrier, but also unify the scene is also an interesting compositional device. I would be interested to understand why you have classified it as a still life, but I can see both stillness and life in this painting.

  5. I saw the center of the painting first, the detail on the trunk that becomes more abstract towards the bottom of the painting. Softened, more hidden. The flowers in this area and to the upper left on the thirds 🙂 direct the eye. The soft flowers of the trees further back are reflected in the pool in the background. The golden trees lean out and up together with the branches. They reach for the sky seen high, near the top. The brush strokes sweep upwards. The dark area of the pool in the foreground direct to the main tree, slightly off center. But it is the light, the gold, yellows and white that bring the painting to life contrasted by the darks of the branches and the pool.

  6. Thank you for sharing this work and this artist with us in the larger world. I agree with my colleagues here.

    I would add:

    Interesting composition placing the vertical main subject off center. Also the use of the landscape oriented rectangle plays nicely with the spread of the limbs. I especially respond to the rhythm of the background shapes that dance lyrically across the rectangle behind the main subject.

    The complimentary luscious yellow and purple colors i find very pleasing. And the softening of edges for the vertical trunk of the main subject tree helps tie it with the background while the diagonal direction of the limbs are more distinct. And attracts focus to the upper aspect of the tree. So I read this piece from lower left to upper right, and all areas attract my attention.

    One more thing that I appreciate is this artist relies on varying vertical strokes that seem to enhance the upward movement that i respond to in this piece.

  7. I love how the tree captures your eye very simple with its blossoms of white and mauve with extending branches. T o then draw you to the backgound of colours yellows and greens. I like how he has used his brush to give the impression of spring flowers.

  8. It is obvious that the blossom tree is the main star of this painting. With the yellows, and especially the gold background contrasting with the other muted colours it makes the painting ‘pop’ The tree is almost asking to be hugged as the branches reach out to the viewer. It is a very impressionist painting giving off a real sense of warmth.

  9. I can’t say much more than what has already been said! The soft muted background, the more detail as you move forward in the painting, the detail on the center of interest tree with the sharp white blossoms, truly a beautiful painting

  10. The complementary color scheme draws the eye into the painting and gives a since of calm. I must say that I had an instant feeling of well being when first looking at the painting. Right or wrong it is how the viewer feels when viewing a painting that makes the painting a success or a failure.


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