Sir William Russell Flint lived from 4 April 1880 to December 1969. He was widely recognised to be the finest watercolour artist of his generation and in 1947 was knighted for his services to art. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
William Russell Flint was born in Edinburgh. His father, Francis Wighton Flint, was an illustrator and his mother, Jane Russell Flint, was a civil servant. Flint's artistic talents were recognised early, and he attended the Royal Institution School of Art in Edinburgh, one of the precursors to the Edinburgh College of Art.
In 1900, Flint moved to London to take up a position as a medical illustrator, and he rapidly expanded into illustrations for magazines and commercial designers. Flint joined the Illustrated London News in 1903, which brought his artistic talents to the notice of a much wider audience. In 1905 Flint married Sibylle Sueter, who had been introduced to him as a potential model. He became a full time freelance artist in 1907, and in 1912 moved with Sibylle to Rome.
During World War One Flint was based on Scotland as an officer serving on airships, and after the war he gave up his commercial and illustration work, concentrating instead on painting. He was elected as an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1924, and in 1936 became President of the Royal Society of Painters in Watercolour. William and Sibylle spent much of World War Two living in Devon.
In 1947 Sir William Russell Flint was knighted by King George VI for his services to art. A retrospective exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1962 attracted 21,000 visitors. Flint died in 1969, aged 89. He continues to be regarded as one of the greatest ever watercolourists and his works are highly sought after.