Sir William Russell Flint was born in Edinburgh on 4 April 1880 and was educated at Daniel Stewart’s College and then Edinburgh Institution. From 1894 to 1900 he was apprenticed as a lithographic draughtsman while taking classes at the Royal Institute of Art in Edinburgh. From 1900 to 1902 he worked as a medical illustrator in London while studying part-time at the Heatherley School of Fine Art. 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.
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.
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.
Flint was active as an artist and a writer until his death in London on 30 December 1969.