Sir William Russell Flint was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was the son of artist Francis Wighton Flint. From 1894 to 1900 Flint apprenticed as a lithographic draughtsman while taking classes at the Royal Institute of Art, Edinburgh and later 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 5 illustrations for editions of several books, including W. S. Gilbert’s Savoy Operas (1909) and Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales (1912).
During visits to Spain, Flint was dazzled 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 a prolific exhibitor, elected president of Britain’s Royal Society of Painters in Watercolours (now the Royal Watercolour Society) in 1936 to 1956, and knighted in 1947. Flint was active as an artist until his death in London on 30 December 1969.