The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Alexandre Nicolaievitch Roussoff, 1844-1928

Nationality: Russian
Date of Birth: 1844
Place of Birth: Russia
Date of Death: 1928.05
Place of Death:


Alexandre Nicolaïevitch Roussoff or Volkoff-Muromsoff was a genre and landscape painter and watercolourist.


Roussoff travelled to Egypt and Italy, settling in Venice in 1881 among an international community of genre painters. There he met JW, introduced by the genre and landscape painter Henry Woods, who wrote home, 'They are very happy together and I am very glad'. However, some of Roussoff's Venetian scenes were very similar to JW's in subject and composition and there was a degree of rivalry.

According to Bacher, Roussoff mocked JW's pastels, 'jeeringly saying that he was willing to bet he could make half a dozen pastels as good as Whistler's, and, if they were mixed with his, nobody could tell them apart'. An American friend of JW bet Roussoff a champagne dinner that he could do no such thing. Roussoff lost the bet and according to Maud Franklin he 'was obliged to take a course of mud baths after his defeat' (#10060). In 1883, when Roussoff sent some of his watercolours of Venice for sale at the Fine Art Society, Whistler wrote, 'I suppose they look like H-l and sell well - thereby combining virtue with business' (#03607).

Roussoff exhibited in London at the Royal Academy, Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours, Fine Art Society and Dudley Gallery from 1880 to 1911, as well as at the Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts and Manchester City Art Gallery.


Bacher, Otto, With Whistler in Venice, New York, 1908; Bénézit, E., Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Gravers, 8 vols, Paris, 1954-61; Johnson, J., and A. Gruetzner, Dictionary of British Artists 1880-1940, Woodbridge, 1980; MacDonald, Margaret F., Palaces in the Night: Whistler in Venice, London, 2001.