The Vadeboncoeur Collection of ImageS
Color Flint pictures
in issues 3, 7, 9 & 10.
Sir William Russell Flint - signature See 1905 b&w work
in the first
B&W ImageS

William Russell Flint - archersWe throw the term "favorite" around a lot, maybe even a little too much. But when we say that Sir William Russell Flint is a favorite, we're very serious. Once Bud put together a list of illustrations that we'd printed in our illustrated book catalogs and we had shown more pictures by Flint than anyone else. He was the only person we had used more than once on the catalog covers, too. When it comes to classic, romantic watercolor, he is our absolute favorite.

Flint lived from 1880 to 1970 and was actively preparing his autobiography when he died just short of his 90th birthday. That book, In Pursuit, has only had one edition of 1050 copies, but Ralph Lewis has published two biographies of Flint based on the information therein. Of course, he couldn't reproduce all of the 120 plates and drawings from Pursuit, but he gave it a good shot.

William Russell Flint - The HeroesHis earliest work was for the Illustrated London News from 1903-1907 during which time he recorded current events. His first book illustrations were for King Solomon's Mines in 1905, followed by Of the Imitation of Christ in 1908, Song of Songs (which is Solomon's), two volumes of Savoy Operas (Gilbert and Sullivan) and Marcus Aurelius in 1909 and 1910, and then his splendid four volume, 48 plate, Le Morte D'Arthur in 1910-1911, an image from which appears above.

The Scholar Gipsy and The Heroes (1912) and The Canturbury Tales of Geoffrey Chaucer (1913) quickly followed. The image at right, from Heroes, shows WRF at his prime, with subject matter to match his talent. A similar book from this era, The Odyssey, was painted in 1914, but WWI delayed the printing until 1924. He continued to illustrate color-plate books through 1929 and his style developed a distinct oriental cast. While still excellent technically, it lost some of the warmth and romanticism that was so powerful in his earlier work. This is especially evident in Judith and Tobit and Susanna. The Odyssey, because of its copyright date, is often assumed to be in this later style.

William Russell Flint - WatercoloursDuring this period, he was featured in two important series of book: Famous Watercolour Painters (at left) and Famous Etchers. He became an associate of the Royal Academy in 1924 and a full member in 1933. He became an associate of the Royal Water Colour Society in 1914, a full member in 1917 and president of the Society in 1936. A well-illustrated 1943 biography entitled More Than Shadows documented his remarkable career to that date.

William Russell Flint - Drawings As an artist, Flint was successful enough to indulge his passions - which consisted, it seems, of drawing. Drawings (from 1950) is a large volume of studies and sketches and plein-air paintings that reveal his love for art and stunning models.
William Russell Flint - Models of Propriety He always worked from models, for even the least significant figure in a composition. He often executed multiple studies in chalk or conte - and Drawings is proof of his talent and facility. A limited edition was published that contained an original sketch tipped in.

Except for a 1955 edition of Herrick's Poems, his later published works were for books he wrote himself. The delightful Models of Propriety (at left from 1951) featured a witty Flint poking fun at the models who had posed for him. It revealed a humorous side of him that was evident in several other books of his drawings.

William Russell Flint - Minxes Admonished Books that followed included the stunning Minxes Admonished, from 1955 (at left), Shadows in Arcady, The Lisping Goddess and the dramatic Breakfast at Perigord with its striking pen & ink high contrast images. Also during the Fifties, prints of his paintings were issued by banks and other commercial concerns.

He was knighted in 1962. Throughout his life he was well respected by his fellow artists and very much admired, then and now, by the populace. His penchant for drawing and painting beautiful women was a certain crowd pleaser.

He's still pleasing them today.


Find out more about Sir William Russell Flint from the following books:

Drawings Sir William Russell Flint, 1950, Collins
Famous Water-Colour Painters - W. Russell Flint G.S. Sandilands, 1928, The Studio, Ltd.
More Than Shadows Arnold Palmer, 1943, The Studio
Sir William Russell Flint Ralph Lewis and Keith S. Gardner, 1989, North Light Books
The Vadeboncoeur Collection of Knowledge Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. 1997.
The Vadeboncoeur Collection of ImageS 3, 7, 9, 10, B&W 1 Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. 2002, 2003, 2007, 2008.

Illustrations copyright by their respective owners.
This page written, designed & © 1997 by Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. Updated, 2011.

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