William Russell Flint was a Scottish illustrator and artist. Although he worked in all manners of media, he remains best known for his watercolors and his many depictions of the female body in muted, ochre hues, infusing his images with a studied sense of realism and a subdued hint of eroticism. Born on April 4, 1880 in Edinburgh, Scotland, his father was a lithographer who taught the young Flint from an early age.
After graduating from the Royal Institute of Art in Edinburgh in 1900, he worked as a part-time medical and fiction illustrator. Flint went on to create many artworks for the publication The Illustrated London News, and also provided illustrations for editions of books such as The Cantebury Tales.
From the outset of his career Flint’s work won immediate favour, and exhibiting institutions were quick to give him official recognition. Flint regarded himself ‘first and foremost a landscape painter’ and critics of the time considered him ‘one of the few Academicians who remained faithful to the classical past’. However, it was the artist’s depiction of beautiful young women that garnered him enormous popularity. Flint’s most iconic subject was Cecilia Green, the 22-year-old exotic beauty, who over the course of fifteen years became the artist’s trusted confidant and muse.
The popularity of Russell Flint’s proofs and limited editions, published since his death in 1969, has made the artist a household name. Far less known was his masterly skill in the art of etching, or to be more precise in dry-point engraving. The great scarcity of these prints produced entirely from start to finish by hand, restricts their collection to a few knowledgeable, discerning connoisseurs.
Russell Flint’s works are highly sought after and the publication of limited edition prints not only fed the ever-growing demand for his work, but also cemented his reputation as an iconic twentieth century artist.
His work is found in numerous private and public collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, and the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. Flint died in London, England on December 30, 1969 at the age of 89, a celebrated and successful artist with many collectors.
‘A Spanish Christening’
“Having failed in my first attempt at this subject – double attractive in its figure motifs and its setting – I made this plate a test piece. The setting was superb. The Cloisters of the church at Orio were one of the finest subjects I ever saw. They existed in their ancient dignity in 1921, but ten years later they were gone, and I felt heartbroken. Spain made much money in the First World War, and spent it in incredible acts of vandalism towards its own treasures. The Marquis Merry del Val, Spain’s brilliant and charming Ambassador in London, agreed with me, sadly, about that.”