Russell, Mrs. Moses B. (nee Clarissa Peters) – American Artist

Attributed to Clarissa Peters Russell (Mrs. Moses B. Russell) Circa 1840 portrait miniature painting of a child in a white dress wearing a coral bead necklace

p4A ItemID E8959825
A 19th century watercolor on ivory miniature portrait of a young girl with her cat and dog seated on a cushion, attributed to the Massachusetts artist Clarissa Peters Russell

p4A ItemID E8931162
Mrs. Moses B. Russell (Clarissa Peters), Miniature Portrait Of A Young Boy Holding A Hammer. Watercolor on ivory

p4A ItemID F7985714
Clarissa Peters Russell oil on ivory, Pair of Portrait Miniatures of a Mother and Daughter, unsigned

p4A ItemID F7984908

Mrs. Moses B. Russell (1809-1854)

Clarissa Peters was born in Februay 1809 in Andover, Massachusetts. While little is known about her early life, it is believed that she taught at the Blue Hill Academy in Blue Hill, Maine. By 1835 she was working in Boston as a miniaturist and giving instruction. In 1839 she married Moses Baker Russell, who was also a miniaturist and instructor.

Even after the precipitious decline in demand for miniature likenesses due to the popularity of photographic images, the quality and charm of Mrs. Russell’s work won her numerous commissions. Such was Mrs. Russell’s stature and reputation that her death in 1854 produced a front page obituary in the Boston Semi-Weekly Atlas and appeared in several other Boston newspapers.

She exhibited at the Athenaeum and the Art and Mechanics Associations in Boston from 1841 to 1850. Her work suberbly captured the beauty and innocence of youth. The style of portraits of children featured a large head and prominent brow. A fine, almost invisible line separating the hands from the forearms of her subjects was another classic Russell feature. She often used sepia as a background to help create a feeling of depth. Layerng and cross hatching the background created an ethereal effect that was highlightd by the luminoisity of the bare ivory. Her careful rendering of each detail added a three-dimensional appearance.

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