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Sir William Rothenstein RP IS NEAC (1872-1945)

Sir William Rothenstein, RP IS NEAC (1872-1945)

William Rothenstein was a significant force in the British art world of the first half of the twentieth century, proving influential as an administrator, dealer, teacher and writer. As an artist, he is best remembered for his portraits and for the images that he produced at home and abroad during the First and Second World Wars.

William Rothenstein was born at 4 Spring Bank, Bradford, Yorkshire, on 29 January 1872, the fifth of six children of a prosperous German Jewish wool merchant. Though an indifferent pupil at Bradford Grammar School, he was a precociously talented artist, and left for London at the age of 16 in order to study at the Slade School of Art. Working there under Alphonse Legros, he developed a strong enthusiasm for French art even before he went to Paris.

While a student at the Académie Julian (1889-93), he first attracted attention for his portrait drawings, and soon became a focus for anglophone artists of his generation. He also made many acquaintances among advanced French writers and painters, including Degas and Pissarro, who influenced his focus on subjects of modern life.

On returning to England, Rothenstein made his name as a draughtsman and social observer, and exhibited mainly at the New English Art Club (a member from 1894).

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