Detail from The Canal, Amsterdam, 1889, James McNeill Whistler, The Hunterian, University of Glasgow


Théodore Roussel

Nationality: French
Date of birth: 1847.03.23
Place of birth: Lorient, Brittany
Date of death: 1926.04.23 or 1927
Place of death: Hastings, Sussex
Category: artist


Théodore (Casimir) Roussel was a painter and etcher.


Roussel was born and educated in France and settled in England in 1878, where he established his reputation as an artist. He was largely self-taught, studying in detail the works of the old masters. His early paintings show this influence combined with an interest in modern urban life.

Roussel met Whistler in 1885, having become his neighbour in Chelsea, and the two men became lifelong friends. His watercolours and oils of this period show the influence of Whistler in both technique and subject matter. His portraits of Mortimer Menpes and Whistler's mistress Maud Franklin, and a painting of Bathers, described as an 'arrangement in flesh-colour and green', exhibited at the SBA in 1887-88, were particularly Whistlerian.

In 1888, encouraged by Whistler, Roussel began experimenting with etching and drypoint (see Sign of the 'White Horse', Parson's Green, about 1893-94). He was particularly interested in colour science and was an early pioneer of colour etching in Britain. He became President of the Society of Graver Printers in Colour at its foundation in 1909, a post which he retained until his death.

Like Whistler, Roussel become concerned with the designing of his own frames. The two artists also shared models, such as the Pettigrew sisters, and at times exchanged drawings (see Whistler and his sister-in-law 'telling' cards m1191, A door opening onto steps down to a garden m1193, A house with a veranda and steps leading down to a garden m1194).

In 1887 Roussel became a member of the Royal Society of British Artists, of which Whistler had become President in 1886. He made drawings of a number of Whistler paintings exhibited at the SBA for publication (e.g. Nocturne in Blue and Gold: Valparaiso Bay y076, Cremorne, No. 1 y163, Arrangement in Black, No. 8: Portrait of Mrs Cassatt y250). When Whistler resigned from the Society in June 1888, Roussel, along with Menpes, Walter Sickert and Alfred Stevens, also handed in their resignation.

Roussel also exhibited with the New English Art Club and with the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers (under Whistler's presidency from 1898). In 1908 he was amongst the founder members of the Allied Artists' Association.


Rutter, F., Theodore Roussel, London, 1926; Bénézit, E., Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, 8 vols, Paris, 1956-61; Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer, and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980 ; Walkley, Giles, Artists' houses in London 1764-1914, Aldershot, 1994 ; MacDonald, Margaret F., James McNeill Whistler. Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours. A Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven and London, 1995 ; Anderson, Ronald, 'Théodore (Casimir) Roussel', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy.