Saturday, February 17, 2018

06 Paintings, PORTRAIT OF A LADY, Cecilia Green and Sir William Russell Flint, , with Footnotes. # 25

Sir William Russell Flint, R.A., P.R.W.S., 1880-1969
CECILIA INSPECTING HER ARTIST'S HANDIWORK
Model: Cecilia Green
Watercolour
25 by 36 cm., 10 by 14 in.
Private collection


Signed l.l.: W. RUSSELL FLINT-; further signed and inscribed on the backboard: Cecilia Inspecting her Artist's Handiwork/ by Sir William Russell Flint. R.A./ This little picture is for Cecilia's own dear John/ with deep affection from Willie/ Oct. 1959

Sir William Russell Flint RA (4 April 1880 – 30 December 1969) was a Scottish artist and illustrator who was known especially for his watercolour paintings of women. He also worked in oils, tempera, and printmaking. He was educated at Daniel Stewart's College and then Edinburgh Institution. From 1894 to 1900 Flint apprenticed as a lithographic draughtsman while taking classes at the Royal Institute of Art, Edinburgh. From 1900 to 1902 he worked as a medical illustrator in London while studying part-time at Heatherley's Art School. He furthered his art education by studying independently at the British Museum. He was an artist for The Illustrated London News from 1903 to 1907, and produced illustrations for editions of several books.

After Sir William Russell Flint, 1880 - 1969
The Red Portfolio
Coloured Print
Model: Cecilia Green
10 x 15 inches
Private collection

Flint was elected president of Britain's Royal Society of Painters in Watercolours (now the Royal Watercolour Society) in 1936 to 1956, and knighted in 1947.

After Sir William Russell Flint, 1880 - 1969
NEW MODEL INSPECTING DRAWINGS OF HER PREDECESSOR
Coloured Print
Model: Cecilia Green
13"x21.5" (33x54.5cm)
Private collection

During visits to Spain, Flint was impressed by Spanish dancers, and he depicted them frequently throughout his career. He enjoyed considerable commercial success but little respect from art critics, who were disturbed by a perceived crassness in his eroticized treatment of the female figure.

Sir William Russell Flint, 1880 - 1969
Model and Critic
Coloured Print
Model: Cecilia Green
14.5" x 21.75"
Private collection

On the other hand, complete strangers kept recognizing Cecilia Green. She was a beautiful young woman, and this might have been a chat-upline, but they kept asking the same thing. Was she Sir Russell Flint's model? It was an embarrassing enough question, particularly for one who had never heard of the Scottish artist, let alone seen anything of his work.

Sir William Russell Flint, R.A., P.R.W.S., 1880 - 1969
THE TURQUOISE RIBBON
Model: Cecilia Green
Watercolour
23 by 37 cm.; 9 by 14½ in.

Someone showed her a published album, and she thought that Flint's plates were ''absolutely brilliant''. She was captivated, and yes there were some resemblances between Cecilia and the figures in pictures like Three Gypsies in Languedoc, or between her and the Spanish dancer Consuelito Carmona, one of the models acknowledged by name in the compositions.


Sir William Russell Flint, R.A., P.R.W.S., 1880-1969
CECILIA
Watercolour
33 by 59cm., 13 by 23¼in.
Private collection

Cecilia Green's career as a soloist with the Festival Ballet in London had ended abruptly when she contracted tuberculosis at the age of 21. She had been two years in hospital. She didn't know what to do with herself. She had nothing else to fall back upon. 

She looked Flint up in Who's Who. She found his phone number in the book. At the station she went into a phone box and rang his number. He answered himself and he was obviously nervous about using the telephone, so he sounded very brusque. A bit rude and unpleasant. she told him she was a model. He said he didn't want a model. ''I told him, well, I'm just round the corner. Could you just see me for a minute? He said, 'You can come if you like. But I don't want a model.' Bang -- the phone. "I thought, I'm not going. But I decided I'd come all this way. I'd go and see him. He couldn't kill me. I found a taxi.''

71 year old Sir William Russell Flint answered the door of his London studio. What Russell Flint saw when he opened the door was a stunningly attractive 21 year old former ballet dancer, of whom he later commented ‘I had adapted faces to make them look like hers years and years before I met her’. She remained with him as model, muse and critic until 1966.

Their association lasted for some 15 years, but she was much more than his model and his inspiration. Flint's wife was confined to a nursing home with arthritis, and Cecilia took over many additional duties, such as dealing with agents, acting as his hostess, and even manicuring his fingernails.

Although Russell Flint was very fond of her their relationship was always most proper. When painting he always observed great formality , forever correctly attired in a waistcoat, collar and tie, and as often as not he would not even remove his jacket whilst at work. For her own part Cecilia looked upon him as a kindly uncle.

Cecilia Green was the only child of garment workers of Russian extraction, she was born at Hackney, in the East End of London, on August 29 1931. In childhood she suffered from malnutrition, which caused rickets in the legs and thighs. That her legs in adulthood were extremely shapely, as Flint showed, must be attributed rather to her later ballet training than to early treatment, for no one could persuade her to keep her splints on.

In 1958 she married, but continued to model for Flint until 1966, when she and her husband were "adopted" by Baron Leo Bensilum, an ebullient and dominating oil company executive. Cecilia found his extrovert personality the very opposite of the shy, retiring Flint, and was to work for him as his personal assistant until he retired.

Flint was active as an artist until his death in London on 30 December 1969









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