(American, 1840 - 1909)

Rocky Riverbed in the Woods

Oil on paper, 9 3/4 x 14 inches
Signed and dated at lower left: “C. L. FUSSELL/1887”

Fussell painted a number of fairly detailed grisaille landscapes that probably served as a source for monochrome illustrations in magazines or books. These paintings are similar to works by his contemporary Thomas Moran (1837-1926), who was active as a commercial illustrator. Unfortunately Fussell’s career as an illustrator is undocumented. In 1889 he exhibited three grisailles at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, two views of Ridley Creek and one study of a beech tree, and priced them at twenty-five dollars each. A similar grisaille owned by the academy is dated 1895 and identified by an inscription on the reverse as a view near Fussell’s neighborhood in Media, Delaware County.

About the Artist

(American, 1840 - 1909)

Charles Lewis Fussell was born in West Vincent, Chester County, Pennsylvania, the son of a prominent Quaker abolitionist physician. He attended Friends High School and later Central High School in Philadelphia, where he befriended Thomas Eakins (1844-1916). Fussell began to attend the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1859 and exhibited there between 1863 and 1905. He also took private art lessons from the history and portrait painter Peter Frederick Rothermel (1817-1895). He became interested in landscape after a visit to Greeley, Colorado, and after his family settled in Media, Delaware County, Pennsylvania he traveled throughout the surrounding area in search of inspiring scenery. Little is known of Fussell's activities until he settled in Brooklyn, New York, in 1889, where he lived for the next eight years.

Dispirited because he failed to achieve professional success in New York, Fussell returned to the family homestead in Media. Shortly before Fussell's death a newspaper reviewer praised his work and noted that he had “grown gray in the service of art, and with his silvery pate, luxuriant beard, and benign and benevolent expression, he might easily pose for a portrait of St. Nicholas.”