Although unattributed in the catalogue, the 3ft x 2ft 3in (90 x 70cm) oil of a society brunette in harebell blue dress offered at Ramsay Cornish (24% buyer’s premium inc VAT) in Edinburgh on February 22 was signed Russell and dated 1926. Pitched at £100-200, it was hammered down at £1950.
The winning bidder, dealer Duncan Wood believes it to be “a superb example of the work of Sir Walter Westley Russell”.
Walter Westley Russell (1867-1949) studied at the Westminster School of Art under Frederick Brown. He exhibited widely, painted mostly society portraits and became a Royal Academy member in 1926, the year this portrait was painted. He later became assistant professor at the Slade School from 1895-1927 and was keeper at the RA from 1927-42.
Another mystery woman of the early 20th century was the subject of a portrait by Myra Luxmoore (1851-1919) offered by Wotton Auction Rooms (17.5% buyer’s premium) in Gloucestershire on February 25 shown left.
This signed 2ft 11in x 2ft 3in (89 x 68cm) oil of a seated young woman in black lace with blue beaded necklace was in outwardly poor condition, but areas of flaking paint were not beyond restoration. Pitched at just £50-80, the hammer price was £1650.
Relatively little is known about Luxmoore. Giving her address as Newton Abbot, Devon, she exhibited as an associate with the Society of Women Artists in the 1880s.
The following decade she moved to London and c.1905 took a studio at Bedford Gardens, Kensington – an address regularly used for Women’s Suffrage meetings.
Only a handful of portraits are known although a portrait of Norah, the 18-year-old daughter of Sir John Craggs, was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1913.