Michael Rothenstein

Michael ROTHENSTEIN, RA  (1908-1993)


He was born in Hampstead, London, 1908, he was the yougest of four children born to the celebrated artist, Sir William Rothenstein and his wife, Alice Knewstub.

He was home schooled and studied art at Chelsea Polytechnic and later at the Central School of Arts and Crafts.  Affected by lingering depression, Rothenstein did little art making during the late 1920s and early 1930s.  During the late 1930s his output was mainly Neo-Romantic landscapes and in 1940 he was commissioned to paint topographical watercolours of endangered sites in Sussex for the Recording Britain project organised by the Pilgrim Trust.  
He held his first (of many) one man shows at the Redfern Galllery, London in 1942.  During this time he became increasingly fascinated  by printmaking.
At Great Barfield, the north Essex village where he lived, there was a small resident art community that included John Aldridge, Edward Bawden and Kenneth Rowntree.  In the early 1950s several more artists moved to the village making it one of the most artistically crreative spots in Britain.  Rothenstein took an important role in organising the Great Bardfield Artists exhibitions during the 1950s.  These exhibitions became nationally known and attracted thousands of visitors - this was helped by his contacts in the art world, who included his older brother, Sir John Rothenstein was the current head of the Tate Gallery.
From the mid 1950s Rothenstein almost abandoned painting in preference to printmaking which included linocut as well as etchings.  Like his fellow Bardfield artists his work was figurative but became near abstract in the 1960s.
He taught art for many years at Camberwell School of Art and Stoke-on-Trent College of Art, he also lectured extensively in the USA.  He illustrated several books including the first UK edition of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men (1937).

He was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1977 and a Royal Academician in 1984.