Diamond Head by Moonlight, 1927
Oil on Canvas, Lined
26 x 35 x 3.25 in (66.04 x 88.90 x 8.26 cm)
34.25 x 43 in
Diamond Head by Moonlight is a rare, early work by Shirley Russell. Easily her best known work, this painting was created from a vantage point looking east at the rising moon over Diamond Head, and situated far to the west of the famous beaches at Waikiki (probably near the site of the Moana Hotel). This nocturne of Diamond Head on a clear full moon night shows the moon path "Ala Moana" across the water, which is a subject also featured in Lionel Walden's most desirable paintings. Shirley Ximena Hopper Russell was born in Del Ray, California in 1886. Studying Art and Modern Languages, at Stanford University, Russell graduated in 1908, but did not travel to Hawaii until after she was married in 1921. She returned to Hawaii, as a widow, in 1923 to teach Art at McKinley High School and taught there until she retired in 1946. Over her long career, Russell painted a wide variety of subjects including landscape, seascape and still life. Russell was a frequent exhibitor at the Honolulu Academy of Arts, where she had three one-person shows. In addition to her Paris exhibition, she also exhibited her work in the US Mainland and Tokyo. While living in Honolulu, Russell studied painting under Lionel Walden's guidance, often traveling to various shoreline destinations and painting en plein air. Walden had arrived in Honolulu in 1911, and split his time between Hawaii and France until he died in 1933. Walden, studied in Paris under Carolus Duran, exhibiting frequently in the French Salon. Walden exerted a strong influence on Shirley Russell, with his impressionist style and skill as a marine painter most evident in Russell's earliest works. It was likely under Walden's influence that Russell felt inspired her to travel to Paris to study during the years, 1927-1928. While living in Paris, Russell exhibited her painting "Diamond Head by Moonlight" in the Paris spring Salon in 1927. This work, in a massive French frame is most likely the same painting Russell exhibited in the 1927 Spring Paris Salon as David Forbes mentions in his exhibition catalog, "Encounters with Paradise".