ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Best of William Russell Flint - Myth, Fable and Fairy Tale art from "The Golden Age of Illustration"

Updated on May 3, 2016

William Russell Flint, his career and works

William Russell Flint (1880-1969) was a Scottish painter who is associated with the Golden Age of Illustration.

He has been referred to as the greatest watercolor artist of his time.

William Russell Flint was formally trained in art at the Royal Institution School of Art in Edinburgh and served an apprenticeship at a printing works before moving to London at the age of 20. Before becoming a freelance artist in 1907, he worked for "The Illustrated London News" from 1903.

His illustrations for Limited Editions of a number of classic works are highly collectible.

Some of the most collectible books features illustrations by William Russell Flint include: The Thoughts of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (1909), Mallory's Le Morte D'Arthur: The Book of King Arthur and his Noble Knights of the Round Table (1910-11), Kingsley's The Heroes; or, Greek Fairy Tales for My Children (1912) and Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" (published as The Canterbury Tales of Geoffrey Chaucer in 1913).

Here we show a vintage photograph of William Russell Flint.
Here we show a vintage photograph of William Russell Flint.

Whilst preparing illustrations for publications from the Medici Society, Russell Flint also took commissions from other commercial publishers, including those for The Savoy Operas (1909) and Iolanthe and Other Operas (1910) produced by George Bell & Sons.

Following World War I, Russell Flint participated in a further two sumptuous illustrated books: Lang's translation of Bucolic poetry Theocritus, Bion and Moschus (1922); and The Odyssey of Homer (1924).

Some decades after his first consolidated suites of illustrations were published, his skills were recognized by the Royal Academy and throughout the 1920s and 1930s Russell Flint was elected to a variety of positions, including: Associate of the Royal Academy (1924); Member of the Royal Academy (1933); and President of the Royal Academy of Painters in Watercolor (1936).

In 1962, his artistic record was recognized by the Crown when he received a knighthood.

While we have provided links for various products available through Amazon throughout this Hub, you may also like to consider the wider range available at the William Russell Flint Collection shown at the 'Spirit of the Ages' Museum.

William Russell Flint's illustrations for "The Thoughts of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus" (1909)

Here we show a portion of 'Willingly give thyself up to Clotho ...' - it is from the suite by William Russell Flint published in "The Thoughts of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus" (1909).
Here we show a portion of 'Willingly give thyself up to Clotho ...' - it is from the suite by William Russell Flint published in "The Thoughts of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus" (1909).

The Thoughts of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (1909) was based upon a translation - undertaken by George Long - of the surviving recorded thoughts of the Stoic Philosopher and Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus.

Long provides a description of the education provided to Antoninus as follows:

When he was eleven years old, he assumed the dress of philosophers, something plain and coarse, became a hard student, and lived a most laborious, abstemious life, even so far as to injure his health. Finally, he abandoned poetry and rhetoric for philosophy, and he attached himself to the sect of the Stoics. But he did not neglect the study of law, which was a useful preparation for the high place which he was designed to fill. His teacher was L. Volusianus Maecianus, a distinguished jurist. We must suppose that he learned the Roman discipline of arms, which was a necessary part of the education of a man who afterwards led his troops to battle against a warlike race.

Here we show each of William Russell Flint's color illustrations published in "The Thoughts of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus" (1909).
Here we show each of William Russell Flint's color illustrations published in "The Thoughts of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus" (1909).
William Russell Flint Greeting Cards (12 Designs from "The Thoughts of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus" [1909])
William Russell Flint Greeting Cards (12 Designs from "The Thoughts of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus" [1909])

The illustrations on these Greeting Cards are prepared as tipped-on plates - in the manner of prestige illustrated publications produced in the early decades of the 20th Century. Those tipped-on features are applied to acid-free Ivory card with an accompanying envelope. Each card measures approximately 7 x 5".

 

William Russell Flint's suite of illustrations published in The Thoughts of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (1909) included 12 color designs presented as tipped-in plates.

Those illustrations by William Russell Flint include:

  • "From Diogentus [I learned] not to busy myself about trifling things";
  • "Men seek retreats from themselves, houses in the country, sea-shores, and mountains";
  • "Do not act as if thou wert going to live ten thousand years";
  • "Willingly give thyself up to Clotho, allowing her to spin thy thread into whatever she pleases";
  • "A prayer of the Athenians";
  • "To little children the ball is a fine thing";
  • "With food and drink and cunning arts, turning the channel's course to 'scape from death";
  • "He who pursues pleasure as good, and avoids pain as evil, is guilty of impiety";
  • "Certain islands of the Happy";
  • "O Cithaeron!";
  • "And virtue they will curse, speaking harsh words"; and
  • "Tiberius et Capreae".

William Russell Flint's illustrations for "Savoy Operas" (1909)

Here we show a portion of 'I can tell a woman's age in half a minute - and I do' - it is from the suite by William Russell Flint published in "Savoy Operas" (1909).
Here we show a portion of 'I can tell a woman's age in half a minute - and I do' - it is from the suite by William Russell Flint published in "Savoy Operas" (1909).

Savoy Operas (1909), as published by George Bell & Sons (London), includes four 'Libretti' from Gilbert and Sullivan: "The Pirates of Penzance; or, The Slave of Duty"; "Patience; or, Bunthorne's Bride"; "Princess Ida; or, Castle Adament"; and "The Yeomen of the Guard; or, The Merryman and his Maid".

For each of the works, William Russell Flint prepared eight color illustrations so that the combined collection for Savoy Operas (1909) comprised 32 images. A year later, George Bell & Sons produced the companion volume, Iolanthe and Other Operas with a further 32 color illustrations from William Russell Flint.

William Russell Flint's illustrations for "Iolanthe and Other Operas" (1910)

Here we show a portion of 'Enter Fairies, led by Leila, Celia, and Fleta' - it is from the suite by William Russell Flint published in "Iolanthe and Other Operas" (1910).
Here we show a portion of 'Enter Fairies, led by Leila, Celia, and Fleta' - it is from the suite by William Russell Flint published in "Iolanthe and Other Operas" (1910).

Iolanthe and Other Operas (1910), as published by George Bell & Sons (London), includes four Operas from Gilbert and Sullivan: "Iolanthe; or, The Peer and the Peri"; "The Mikado; or, The Town of Titipu"; "Ruddigore; or, The Witch's Curse"; and "The Gondoliers; or, The King of Barataria".

For each of the works, William Russell Flint prepared eight color illustrations so that the combined collection for Iolanthe and Other Operas (1910) comprised 32 images. The title was published by George Bell & Sons (London) as companion volume to Savoy Operas produced a year earlier with the same number of color illustration from William Russell Flint.

William Russell Flint's illustrations for "Le Morte d'Arthur: The Book of King Arthur and his Noble Knights of the Round Table" (1910-11)

Here we show a portion of 'So by her subtle working she made Merlin to go under that stone ...' - it is from the William Russell Flint suite published in "Le Morte d'Arthur: The Book of King Arthur and his Noble Knights of the Round Table" (1910-11).
Here we show a portion of 'So by her subtle working she made Merlin to go under that stone ...' - it is from the William Russell Flint suite published in "Le Morte d'Arthur: The Book of King Arthur and his Noble Knights of the Round Table" (1910-11).

The text for Le Morte d'Arthur: The Book of King Arthur and his Noble Knights of the Round Table (1910-11) was drawn from the epic 15th Century tale compiled by Sir Thomas Malory - an edition that was published and introduced by William Caxton in 1485.

Malory's "Morte d'Arthur" was compiled from folk tales, with the addition of some original material related to Sir Gareth. It is regarded as the best-known work of English-language Arthurian literature.

William Russell Flint's illustrative interpretation of Malory's work is masterful and depicts seminal moments and characters within the Arthurian tale, including: Uther Pendragon; Morgan le Fay; Merlin; Merlin; King Arthur; Guenever; Sir Launcelot; the Lady of the Lake; Sir Uwain; Sir Pelleas; Sir Gareth (Beaumains); Tristram; La Beale Isoud; King Meliodas; Tramtrist; Segwarides; King Mark; Sir Bors; Sir Percivale; and Galahad.

Here we show each of William Russell Flint's color illustrations published in "Le Morte d'Arthur: The Book of King Arthur and his Noble Knights of the Round Table" (1910-11).
Here we show each of William Russell Flint's color illustrations published in "Le Morte d'Arthur: The Book of King Arthur and his Noble Knights of the Round Table" (1910-11).
William Russell Flint Greeting Cards (48 Designs from "The Book of King Arthur and His Noble Knights of the Round Table" [1910-11])
William Russell Flint Greeting Cards (48 Designs from "The Book of King Arthur and His Noble Knights of the Round Table" [1910-11])

The illustrations on these Greeting Cards are prepared as tipped-on plates - in the manner of prestige illustrated publications produced in the early decades of the 20th Century. Those tipped-on features are applied to acid-free Ivory card with an accompanying envelope. Each card measures approximately 7 x 5".

 

As published across the 4 volumes, William Russell Flint's suite of illustrations for "Le Morte d'Arthur: The Book of King Arthur and his Noble Knights of the Round Table" included 48 color images presented as tipped-in plates.

That suite of illustrations from William Russell Flint received critical praise upon publications, including that commentary in The International Studio (Vol. 46; 1912) that follows:

The earlier volumes having already been noticed in these pages, it remains for us, now that the fourth and concluding volume has made its appearance, to offer our congratulations to those concerned in the production of this splendid edition of a "noble and joyous" book - to the publishers, who may justly point to it as a triumph of typographical art, and to the artist, who has added immensely to his reputation by the singularly effective and apposite drawings executed by him to illustrate this old romance.

William Russell Flint's illustrations for "The Heroes; or, Greek Fairy Tales for My Children" (1912)

Here we show a portion of 'How they built the Ship Argo in Iolcos' - it is from the William Russell Flint suite published in "The Heroes; or, Greek Fairy Tales for My Children" (1912).
Here we show a portion of 'How they built the Ship Argo in Iolcos' - it is from the William Russell Flint suite published in "The Heroes; or, Greek Fairy Tales for My Children" (1912).

The text for The Heroes; or, Greek Fairy Tales for My Children (1912) was drawn from the mid-19th Century work of Charles Kingsley of the same name.

William Russell Flint's illustrative interpretation of Kingsley's work is masterful and depicts seminal moments and characters within the classic Greek tales, including: Danae; Perseus; Tritons; Galatea; Cheiron; the Argonauts; Medeia; the Sirens; Theseus; and the Minotaur.

The following review published in "The International Studio" (Vol. 48, 1913) provides some insight into the reception provided to this lovely Edition illustrated by William Russell Flint:

Mr William Russell Flint's color-books in the Riccardi Press editions have frequently called for praise in these columns, and we have formerly noted how the artist's style has with each book more perfectly accommodated itself to decorative color-illustration. The present work surpasses any of his that we have already reviewed in its thorough understanding of the problem of book-illustration. There is no sameness in Mr William Russell Flint's pictures, although he rightly retains uniformity of style. He has considerable inventive faculty, both in the conception of his subject and in the disposition of color, in the latter obtaining a great variety of effect.

Here we show each of William Russell Flint's color illustrations published in "The Heroes; or, Greek Fairy Tales for My Children" (1912).
Here we show each of William Russell Flint's color illustrations published in "The Heroes; or, Greek Fairy Tales for My Children" (1912).
William Russell Flint Greeting Cards (12 Designs from "The Heroes; or, Greek Fairy Tales for My Children" [1912])
William Russell Flint Greeting Cards (12 Designs from "The Heroes; or, Greek Fairy Tales for My Children" [1912])

The illustrations on these Greeting Cards are prepared as tipped-on plates - in the manner of prestige illustrated publications produced in the early decades of the 20th Century. Those tipped-on features are applied to acid-free Ivory card with an accompanying envelope. Each card measures approximately 7 x 5".

 

William Russell Flint's suite of illustrations published in "The Heroes; or, Greek Fairy Tales for My Children" (1912) included 12 color images presented as tipped-in plates.

Those illustrations by William Russell Flint include:

  • "He took Danae and her babe down to the seashore, and put them into a great chest and thrust them out to sea";
  • "She stood and looked at him with her clear grey eyes";
  • "All night long the sea-nymphs sang sweetly, and the Tritons blew upon their conchs, as they played round Galatea their queen";
  • "Do not fear me, fair one; I am a Hellen, and no barbarian";
  • "Cheiron stood by him and watched him, for he knew that the time was come";
  • "They took the bough and came to Iolcos, and nailed it to the beak-head of the ship";
  • "He went to a cliff, and prayed for them, that they might come home safe and well";
  • "But Medeia called gently to him, and he stretched out his long spotted neck, and licked her hand";
  • "Slowly they sung and sleepily, with silver voices, mild and clear, which stole over the golden waters, and into the hearts of all the heroes";
  • "Then they leapt across the pool, and came to him";
  • "And Theseus looked up in her fair face and into her deep dark eyes"; and
  • "Theseus caught him by the horns, and forced his head back, and drove the keen sword through his throat".

William Russell Flint's illustrations for "The Canterbury Tales of Geoffrey Chaucer" (1913)

Here we show a portion of one of the three designs for 'The Knightes Tale' - it is from the William Russell Flint suite published in "The Canterbury Tales of Geoffrey Chaucer" (1913).
Here we show a portion of one of the three designs for 'The Knightes Tale' - it is from the William Russell Flint suite published in "The Canterbury Tales of Geoffrey Chaucer" (1913).

The Canterbury Tales of Geoffrey Chaucer (1913) as published by The Medici Society Limited (London), includes an adaptation of Chaucer's Middle English collection of stories dating from the 14th Century.

The tales, whilst among a number of classic works from Chaucer, are considered his 'magnum opus'.

As told by Chaucer, the work is identified as a frame tale - tales told within a tale - in this case, the tales are recounted as part of a story-telling contest conduced among pilgrims travelling together from Southwark to the Canterbury - for the purposes of undertaking a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Thomas Becket at the Cathedral.

As published across 3 volumes in 1913, William Russell Flint's suite of illustrations for The Canterbury Tales of Geoffrey Chaucer included 36 color images presented as tipped-in plates.

William Russell Flint's illustrations for "Theocritus, Bion and Moschus" (1922)

Here we show a portion of 'The Love of Achilles' - it is from the William Russell Flint suite published in "Theocritus, Bion and Moschus" (1922).
Here we show a portion of 'The Love of Achilles' - it is from the William Russell Flint suite published in "Theocritus, Bion and Moschus" (1922).

Theocritus, Bion and Moschus (1922), as published across two volumes by The Medici Society Limited (London), includes an adaptation of works attributed to the Greek Bucolic poets that had been translated by Andrew Lang from the texts of Wordsworth (in the case of Theocritus) and Ziegler (in respect of Bion and Moschus).

Here we show each of William Russell Flint's color illustrations published in "Theocritus, Bion and Moschus" (1922).
Here we show each of William Russell Flint's color illustrations published in "Theocritus, Bion and Moschus" (1922).
William Russell Flint Greeting Cards (20 Designs from "Theocritus Bion and Moschus" [1922])
William Russell Flint Greeting Cards (20 Designs from "Theocritus Bion and Moschus" [1922])

The illustrations on these Greeting Cards are prepared as tipped-on plates - in the manner of prestige illustrated publications produced in the early decades of the 20th Century. Those tipped-on features are applied to acid-free Ivory card with an accompanying envelope. Each card measures approximately 7 x 5".

 

William Russell Flint's suite of illustrations published in Theocritus, Bion and Moschus (1922) included 20 color images presented as tipped-in plates. Prepared prior to World War I, the effects of The Great War caused a delay of nearly a decade to the publication.

Those illustrations by William Russell Flint include:

  • "Sweet, meseems, is the whispering sound of yonder pine tree, goatherd, that murmureth by the wells of water";
  • "She too came, the sweetly smiling Cypris, craftily smiling she came, yet keeping her heavy anger":
  • "Ah, lovely Amaryllus, why no more, as of old, dost thou glance through this cavern after me, nor callest me, thy sweetheart, to thy side";
  • "Clearista, too, pelts the goatherd with apples as he drives past his she-goats, and a sweet word she murmurs";
  • "To hear this makes her jealous of me, by Paean, and she wastes with pain, and springs madly from the sea";
  • "They all call thee a 'gipsy,' gracious Bombyca, and 'lean,' and 'sunburnt,' 'tis only I that call thee 'honey-pale'";
  • "The nymphs all clung to his hand, for love of the Argive lad had fluttered the soft hearts of all of them";
  • "The nymphs all clung to his hand, for love of the Argive lad had fluttered the soft hearts of all of them";
  • "Hiero, like the mighty men of old, girds himself for fight, and the horse-hair crest is shadowing his helmet";
  • "Then sang they all in harmony, beating time with woven paces, and the house rang round with the bridal song";
  • "Taunting me, thus she spoke: 'Get thee gone from me! Wouldst thou kiss me, thou - a neatherd?'";
  • "Love stood on a pedestal of stone above the waters. And lo, that statue leapt and killed that cruel one";
  • "Then marvelled the king himself, and his son, the warlike Phyleus, ... when they beheld the exceeding strength of the son of Amphitryon";
  • "Now Pentheus from a lofty cliff was watching all ... Autonoe first beheld him, ... and, rushing suddenly, with her feet dashed all confused the mystic things of Bacchus the wild";
  • "'Tis for thee to caress thy kine, not a maiden unwed";
  • "'Woe, woe for Cypris,' the mountains are all saying, and the oak-trees answer, 'Woe for Adonis'";
  • "The herdsman bore off Helen, upon a time, and carried her to Ida, sore sorrow to Œnoe";
  • "Hesperus, golden lamp of the lovely daughter of the foam, ... hail, friend, and as I lead the revel to the shepherd's hut, in place of the moonlight lend me thine";
  • "Come, dear playmates, maidens of like age with me, let us mount the bull here and take our pastime, ... how mild he is, and dear, and gentle to behold, and no whit like other bulls"; and
  • "And she too is Sicilian, and on the shores by Aetna she was wont to play".

William Russell Flint's illustrations for "The Odyssey of Homer" (1924)

Here we show a portion of 'All her joints were loosened as she lay in the chair ...' - it is from the William Russell Flint suite published in "The Odyssey of Homer" (1924).
Here we show a portion of 'All her joints were loosened as she lay in the chair ...' - it is from the William Russell Flint suite published in "The Odyssey of Homer" (1924).

The Odyssey of Homer (1924), as published by The Medici Society Limited (London), includes an adaptation of "Homer's Odyssey" - one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer (the other being the "Iliad") - undertaken by Professor S H Butcher and Andrew Lang.

William Russell Flint's illustrative interpretation of Homer's epic work is masterful and depicts seminal moments and characters within the classic Greek tale, including: the goddess Athena; Odysseus; Helen of Troy; Telemachus; Circe; Calypso; and Alcinous.

Here we show each of William Russell Flint's color illustrations published in "The Odyssey of Homer" (1924).
Here we show each of William Russell Flint's color illustrations published in "The Odyssey of Homer" (1924).
William Russell Flint Greeting Cards (20 Designs from "The Odyssey of Homer" [1924])
William Russell Flint Greeting Cards (20 Designs from "The Odyssey of Homer" [1924])

The illustrations on these Greeting Cards are prepared as tipped-on plates - in the manner of prestige illustrated publications produced in the early decades of the 20th Century. Those tipped-on features are applied to acid-free Ivory card with an accompanying envelope. Each card measures approximately 7 x 5".

 

As published in 1924, William Russell Flint's suite of illustrations for The Odyssey of Homer included 20 color images presented as tipped-in plates.

Those illustrations by William Russell Flint include:

  • "My heart is rent for wise Odysseus, the hapless one, who far from his friends this long while suffereth affliction in a seagirt Isle";
  • "Now when the wooers had put from them the desire of meat and drink they minded them of other things, even of the song and dance: for these are the crown of the feast";
  • "Then in amaze she went back to her chamber, for she laid up the wise saying of her son in her heart";
  • "Helen came forth from her fragrant vaulted chamber, like Artemis of the golden arrows";
  • "It was the fourth day when he had accomplished all. And lo, on the fifth, the fair Calypso sent him on his way from the island";
  • "And the daughter of Alcinous alone stood firm, for Athene gave her courage of heart, and took all trembling from her limbs";
  • "Circe meanwhile had gone her way and made fast a ram and a black ewe by the dark ship";
  • "So spake she, but I drew my sharp sword from my thigh and sprang upon Circe, as one eager to slay her";
  • "And lo, the women came up, for the high goddess Persephone sent them forth, all they that had been the wives and daughters of mighty men";
  • "Now all the rest, as many as fled from sheer destruction, were at home, and had escaped both war and sea, but Odysseus only, craving for his wife and for his homeward path, the lady nymph Calypso held, that fair goddess, in her hollow caves, longing to have him for her lord";
  • "Therewith the goddess plunged into a shadowy cave";
  • "And Helen came up, beautiful Helen, with the robe in her hands and spake and hailed him";
  • "All her joints were loosened as she lay in the chair, and the fair goddess the while was giving her gifts immortal";
  • "By help of the handmaids, shameless things and reckless, the wooers came and trapped me, and chid me loudly";
  • "The joy and anguish came on her in one moment, and both her eyes filled up with tears, and the voice of her utterance was stayed";
  • "Then down from heaven came Athena and drew nigh him, fashioned in the likeness of a woman";
  • "Others again go for water to the well";
  • "She set forth to go to the hall to the company of the proud wooers, with the back-bent bow in her hands, and the quiver for the arrows";
  • "The Killing of the Wooers"; and
  • "So he spake, and at once her knees were loosened, and her heart melted within her, as she knew the same tokens that Odysseus showed her".

Is there a most popular suite of illustrations by William Russell flint?

Which suite of illustrations by William Russell Flint is your favorite?

See results

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.