Francis Russell Murray Flint, RSW VPRWS ROI RSMA (1915-1977) As the son of one of the greatest watercolourists and illustrators of the early twentieth century, Francis Russell Flint was able to use the influence of his father and an upbringing steeped in naval tradition, to become a distinguished painter in his own right, most notably of maritime and coastal scenes.
Francis Russell Flint was born in Brentford, Middlesex on 3 June 1915, the only child of the eminent illustrator and watercolourist, Sir William Russell Flint and his wife, Sibyl (née Sueter). He spent his early childhood in West London, first in Hammersmith, and then, from 1925, at Peel Cottage, in Kensington, where his father would live and work for the rest of his life. Francis was educated at Cheltenham College and the Grosvenor School of Modern Art in Pimlico. His artistic training continued at the Royal Academy Schools, followed by a period studying in Paris. During the mid 1930s, he also spent time aboard the HMS Conway, a school ship moored in the Mersey, in preparation for serving in the Merchant Navy.
Francis Russell Flint grew up in a family with a proud maritime heritage, that would strongly influence his later work.
His maternal grandfather had worked as a Royal Navy fleet paymaster and his uncle, Sir Murray Sueter, had served as a rear admiral during the First World War, during which his father had served as a Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve during the war, and Flint followed in his footsteps by also joining the RNVR in 1938. During the Second World War, he was appointed an official War Artist and spent much of the war in the Far East. Records indicate that Flint was married twice, first, in 1943, to Elizabeth Terry, and then, in 1956, to Susan Sumner, though it is unclear what caused the end of his first marriage.
From 1937, when Francis Russell Flint began exhibiting for the first time, he quickly developed a reputation as a skilled painter of maritime and coastal scenes. His work was exhibited at the Royal Academy, and he was elected a member of the Royal Society of Marine Artists, Institute of Oil Painters, Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Water-Colours, and Royal Society of Painters in Water-Colours, where he also served as Vice-President. His vibrant coastal scenes attracted mass appeal, and many of his works were reproduced in publications and magazines, including Royal Academy Illustrated, Illustrated London News, The Sketch and Tatler. Though Francis Russell Flint continued to paint and exhibit throughout his career, he also dedicated a great deal of time to the academic subject of watercolour painting and to educating others. He wrote regularly for publications such as The Artist and The Studio, and wrote two books, Watercolour for Beginners (1953) and Watercolour Out of Doors (1969). Later in his life, he moved to Burgess hill, in Sussex, and took up a position as art master at the nearby Hurstpierpoint College. When the Sussex Watercolour Society was founded in 1976, Flint was elected as its first vice-President, under Charles Knight. He died on5 August 1977 at the age of 62, in an accident while on holiday in Spain.
A collection of his work is held at the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth, Cornwall.
The biography of Francis Russell Flint is written by Alexander Beetles.