Clouds Over the Hill
Oil on canvas; initialled
16 x 22 inches
Cyril de Putron, and thence by descent
Russell was an Irish writer, editor, critic, poet, painter, Irish nationalist and a pacifist. He was also a mystic and a theosophist. His chosen pseudonym of Æ or AE represents ‘Æon’, a word used by the Gnostics, whose teachings he followed, describing an ‘emanation’ of mind and spirit. ‘He was a tolerant artist-philosopher, friendly towards all mankind, and his big enthusiasms were never mixed with venom ... He dabbled in Eastern mysticism a good deal, but his Irish humour peeped through, and his wit and wisdom, as well as his great reputation, drew constant visitors to his Dublin home. Perhaps he is best described as an Irish Tolstoy, with a tinge of Brahmin in his intellectual background’ (Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 26 July 1935, p 11). Here is a flavour of his poetry, taken from Dusk (1906): ‘Only in clouds and dreams I felt those souls In the abyss, each fire hid in its clod, From which in clouds and dreams the spirit rolls Into the vast of God.’
De Putron, who owned these pictures, was a Captain in the Lancashire Fusiliers stationed in Dublin during the First World War, living at Bushy Park, near Russell. His daughter Mary was a stained glass artist and archaeologist.