Shirley Russell


Carmel Mission

color woodblock print, with artist's monogram, S.R. in lower right corner, signed in pencil on the lower right margin, Shirley Russell, titled and numbered to the left, Carmel Mission #18/50, possibly published by Watanabe Shozaburo, ca, 1935

dai oban tate-e 15 1/8 by 11 7/8 in., 38.4 by 30.2 cm

Shirley Ximena Hopper Russell (1886-1985), also known as Shirley Marie Russell, was born in Del Rey, California. She studied art and modern language at Stanford University, graduating in 1907 (1908 according to some sources). In 1909, she married Lawrence Russell, an engineer. After the premature death of her husband in 1912, she began teaching in Palo Alto to support herself and her young son. In 1921, Russell and her son visited Hawaii and she decided to take up permanent residence there in 1923. Russell studied under the Hawaiian marine artist Lionel Walden during the 1920s. She also studied in New York, and traveled to Paris at least four times to further her art education, including an extended stay in the 1930s. In addition to a stint at the Académie Julian, her teachers in Paris included André Lhote. Her 1927 trip to Paris resulted in one of her paintings beings exhibited there in the Spring Salon.

In the mid-1930s, Russell traveled to the Far East, visiting at least Japan and China. While in Tokyo, it appears that she made contact with the Japanese woodblock print publisher Watanabe Shozaburo, who would publish a number of prints that she designed in the 1935-1936 time period. Russell's introduction to Watanabe came through Charles W. Bartlett, who had worked with Watanabe in the teens and twenties. Since only 12 of Russell's approximately 16 woodblock prints are listed in one of Watanabe's notebooks, Russell may have hired Watanabe to create some additional prints on some subsequent visit to Tokyo, or she may have commissioned them long distance from Hawaii, as most of Bartlett's post-WWI prints had been.

The majority of Russell's prints are tropical botanicals viewed so close up they are nearly abstracts. This design is not among those recorded by Watanabe, and it is the only Russell woodblock print depicting a California landscape.

Darrel C. Karl, Japan Comes to Hawaii: Shirley Russell's Botanical Prints, Eastern Impressions,, October 8, 2016 (biography excerpt)
(inv. no. 10-5493)

price: $1,400


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site last updated
May 25, 2023

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475