Revival for sensual artist inspired by France

An art class in red chalk with Sir William Russell Flint’s exquisite detailing of the women

Watercolours by artist Sir William Russell Flint were in many post-war British homes, where their hint of sun and siestas banished the grey. He died 50 years ago and Michael Delahaye looks at his works in France…

Readers of a certain age may recall that having a tastefully- framed Russell Flint over the fireplace was seen by some as a mark of middle-class status.

This probably said more about the class system than the owners would care to admit, as the pictures, typically showing scantily-clad young women in sensuous poses, were often more than mildly titillating.

What made them socially acceptable was that they were indisputably “Art”.

Sir William Russell Flint (pictured left) was born in Edinburgh in 1880 but moved to London aged 20.

His background in commercial illustration and a knowledge of printing persuaded him that real money – and a regular supply of it – was to be made not from original works but from signed copies, produced in their thousands.

His mastery of the elusive medium of watercolour was rewarded with the improbable combination of professional recognition and commercial success. Lauded by the public and his peers, he was knighted ...

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