William Russell Flint

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Frontispiece to Savoy Operas, showing a scene from Gilbert and Sullivan's Princess Ida.

Sir William Russell Flint RA (4 April 1880 – 30 December 1969) was a Scottish artist and illustrator who was known especially for his watercolours of women. He also worked in oils, tempera, and printmaking.


Flint was born in Edinburgh on 4 April 1880 and was educated at Daniel Stewart's College and then Edinburgh Institution.[1] From 1894 to 1900 Flint apprenticed as a lithographic draughtsman while taking classes at the Royal Institute of Art, Edinburgh.[2] From 1900 to 1902 he worked as a medical illustrator in London while studying part-time at Heatherley's Art School.[3] He furthered his art education by studying independently at the British Museum. He was an artist for The Illustrated London News from 1903 to 1907, and produced illustrations for editions of several books, including H Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines (1907 edition)[4], W. S. Gilbert's Savoy Operas (1909)[5], Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur (1910–1911)[6] and Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales (1912).[2]

Flint was elected president of Britain's Royal Society of Painters in Watercolours (now the Royal Watercolour Society) in 1936 to 1956, and knighted in 1947.[1][7]

During visits to Spain, Flint was impressed by Spanish dancers, and he depicted them frequently throughout his career.[3] He enjoyed considerable commercial success but little respect from art critics, who were disturbed by a perceived crassness in his eroticized treatment of the female figure, [3] clearly borrowing inspiration from similar works by Lawrence Alma-Tadema. [8]

Flint was active as an artist until his death in London on 30 December 1969.

Illustrations to Savoy Operas[edit]

Savoy Operas is a collection of four opera librettos by W. S. Gilbert that had been set to music by Arthur Sullivan, originally published 1909.

Princess Ida


  1. ^ a b "Sir William Russell Flint". Sir William Russell Paintings and Drawings, Nottingham, UK. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  2. ^ a b Theo Cowdell, "Flint, Sir William Russell" Oxford Art Online
  3. ^ a b c Postle and Vaughan 1999, p. 76.
  4. ^ Sir William Russell Flint's illustrations for King Solomon's Mines (London: Cassell and Co., 1907)
  5. ^ "Savoy Operas: With Illustrations in Colour by W. Russell Flint", George Bell & Sons (1909)
  6. ^ Malory, Sir Thomas. Le morte Darthur. 4 vols., 1910–1911. London: P. L. Warner, publisher to the Medici Society; illustrations by W. Russell Flint
  7. ^ http://www.colombart.co.uk/sir-william-russell-flint
  8. ^ Fantasy, Fashion & Affection - Jay A. Gertzman


External links[edit]