Mrs. Shurlock was the mother of Robert Shurlock, the artist's son-in-law. This portrait of her taking snuff is one of several pastels made by Russell for his daughter's family. The handling of the sitter's face is smooth and even, while her bonnet and dress reveal a more rigorous application of the medium with greater evidence of the artist's stroke.
Mrs. Shurlock is the mother of Robert Shurlock, the artist's son-in-law. She was painted by Russell in 1801, around the time he made portraits of his daughter Henrietta and her husband (67.131 and 67.132). The elder Mrs. Shurlock is pictured here taking snuff from a small, decorated snuff-box. The ribbon on her bonnet and the sheen of her shawl give Russell the occasion to display his skill with the pastel medium. Her skin tones are much more smoothly applied, although up close it is still possible to pick out the different pastel colors (yellow, blue, peach) that Russell used. Unusually, Russell gives some suggestion of a domestic interior in this portrait: Mrs. Shurlock sits in a chair with red upholstery and some architectural detail is visible at upper left.
[Francesca Whitlum-Cooper 2010]
Inscription: Signed and dated (upper left, in red chalk): J Russell R.A. pt. 1801
Robert Shurlock, Chertsey, near Guildford, Surrey (until d. 1847); his son, William Shurlock (from 1847); his nephew, Captain Charles Shurlock (until at least 1898); his daughter, Olive Shurlock Sjölander, Skara, Sweden (by 1966–75)
George C. Williamson. John Russell, R.A. London, 1894, p. 165, as Mrs. Shurlock, Robert Shurlock's mother, with a snuffbox, 1801; the pastel in the collection of her grandson, Mainwaring Shurlock, Chertsey.
Katharine Baetjer. British Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1575–1875. New York, 2009, pp. 150–51, no. 70, ill. (color).