Sir William Russell Flint (Scottish, 1880–1969) was a painter known primarily for his watercolors of women, as well as for his work in oils, tempura, and printmaking. Born in Edinburgh, Flint enrolled at the Royal Institute of Art there, and worked as an apprentice for a lithographic draughtsman. From 1900 to 1902, he worked as a medical illustrator in London while studying part-time at Heatherley’s Art School. He then studied 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 W. S. Gilbert’s Savoy Operas and Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.
Experiencing enormous success early in his career, Flint first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1906, in Venice from 1909 to 1914, and in Berlin. He was awarded a silver medal at the Paris Salon of 1912.
After serving as a lieutenant during World War I, Flint returned to pursuing art full time.
He was elected a member of the Royal Watercolour Society in 1917, and, in 1924, was elected Associate of the Royal Academy, receiving full membership in 1933, and later serving as a trustee. In 1931, Flint was appointed a member of the Royal Society of Painters, Etchers and Engravers. Flint then served as president of the Royal Society of Painters in Watercolour from 1936 to 1956, and was knighted in 1947. In 1962, Flint held an exhibition of his work in the Diploma Galleries at the Royal Academy, an honor shared by only five other Royal Academicians.
Among Flint’s favorite subjects were Spanish Flamenco dancers, and he frequently traveled to Spain throughout his career. He enjoyed considerable commercial success, but received harsh condemnation from critics, who denounced his treatment of the female figure as too eroticized.
Flint was active until his death in London at the age of 89.
Today, Flint’s work can be found in numerous institutions around the world, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Galleries of Scotland, and the Courtauld Institute of Art in London.