Russell Cheney

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Russell Cheney
Cheney in 1904
Born(1881-10-16)October 16, 1881
Manchester, Connecticut, US
DiedJuly 12, 1945(1945-07-12) (aged 63)
Kittery, Maine, US
Resting placeEast Cemetery, Manchester, Connecticut, US
Alma materYale University
Académie Julian
Art Students League of New York
Known forPainting

Russell Cheney (October 16, 1881 – July 12, 1945) was an American Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and New England regionalist painter.

Early life and education[edit]

Helen Bayne Knapp, F. O. Matthiessen and Cheney at his garden, 1925

The youngest of eleven children, Cheney was born in Manchester, Connecticut, to Knight Dexter Cheney and Ednah Dow Cheney.[1] He graduated from Yale University in 1904, where he was a member of the Skull and Bones secret society.[2] Cheney studied at the Art Students League with Kenyon Cox and George Bridgman until 1907. He continued his art education in Paris under Jean Paul Laurens at the Académie Julian. After his father's death in 1908, he returned to America and continued with Cox and William Merritt Chase at the Art Students League. In 1909, Cheney was elected president of the League (the same year he exhibited at the Salon des Artistes Francais); he resigned a year later but continued to take classes there, studying with Chase as a private pupil. Cheney spent the summers between 1911 and 1914 painting in York and nearby Ogunquit, Maine. In 1912, he studied there with Charles Woodbury.


In 1909, Cheney exhibited his portrait of Professor Candle at the Salon des Artistes Francais. His first American exhibition was shown at the Fourth Annual Exhibition of the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts in 1914.[3] His first New York exhibition was in the Babcock Galleries in 1922, and a catalogue of his paintings was published the same year. His work was also exhibited at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the San Francisco Museum of Art

Cheney illustrated F. O. Matthiessen's book Sarah Orne Jewett (1929), a work on the life and work of writer of the same name.

Cheney was a member of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, and San Francisco Art Society.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Cheney's health was poor and he spent two years in a Colorado tuberculosis sanatorium and subsequently spent winters in warm climes. He was the longtime partner and lover of author F. O. Matthiessen, who was also a Yale graduate and became a member of Skull & Bones in 1923. Russell was supported by his family and later when the family business was dissolved he was supported by Matthiessen.[4] Matthiessen was twenty years Russell's junior. Russell's death was due to mesenteric thrombosis. He was buried in East Cemetery in Manchester, Connecticut. He was survived by Matthiessen and two sisters, Ednah Cheney Underhill of Santa Barbara, California, and Mrs. Halstead Dorey of Boerne, Texas.


  1. ^ Barlow, Susan. "Russell Cheney : Manchester artist".
  2. ^ Robbins, Alexandra (2002). Secrets of the Tomb: Skull and Bones, the Ivy League, and the Hidden Paths of Power. Boston: Little, Brown. ISBN 0-316-72091-7.
  3. ^ Candee, Richard M. "Rediscovery of a New England Master : Russell Cheney (1881 -1945)".
  4. ^ Rat & the devil. Boston: Allyson. 1978. ISBN 1-55583-110-9.

Further reading[edit]

  • Francis Otto Matthiessen (1947). Russell Cheney, 1881-1945: a record of his work. Oxford University Press. OCLC 493016.
  • Louis Hyde, ed. (1978). Rat & the Devil: Journal Letters of F.O. Matthiessen and Russell Cheney. Alyson Publications. ISBN 978-1-55583-110-3.

External links[edit]