University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Sir William Russell Flint
Letters to Kay Pickford

1946 - 1973

Manuscript Collection Number: 386
Accessioned: Purchase, April 1993.
Extent: .3 linear ft. (83 items).
Content: Letters and newspaper clippings.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: March 1999, by Anita A. Wellner.

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Table of Contents

Biographical Note

Watercolor artist Sir William Russell Flint, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on April 4, 1880, to Jane Flint, one of Scotland's first woman civil servants, and to Francis Wighton Flint, a ticket writer and skilled illuminator. He first attended school at Miss Clinkscales' Seminary at Portobello, advanced to Daniel Stewart's College for Boys in Edinburgh, and later studied at the Royal Institute of Art at Edinburgh. Between 1894 and 1900 Flint served an apprenticeship as a lithographic artist and designer in a printing house in Edinburgh.

In 1900 he went to London, combining work, first as a medical illustrator (1900-1902), and later as a commercial designer and magazine illustrator (1902-1907), and attending Heatherley's Art School. As a magazine illustrator Flint worked for The Illustrated London News from 1903 until 1907. During this period, William Russell Flint met and married Sibylle Sueter, daughter of Fleet Paymaster J. T. Sueter.

In 1907 Flint became a freelance artist and by 1914 had become an Associate of the Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours. During World War I Flint was commissioned as a lieutenant and rose to the rank of captain in the Royal Air Force. Following his military service, Flint's career as an artist advanced rapidly. His artwork was exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy and other public venues, and was also acquired by prominent national and international museums. Flint's many successful one-person exhibitions featured his landscapes of English, Scottish, and Provençal country scenes and his figure compositions. William Russell Flint was made Associate of the Royal Academy in 1924 and a full Academician in 1933.

William Russell Flint also gained recognition for his work in dry-point engraving and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers in 1933. Additionally, Flint was interested in typography, book design, and illustration. He illustrated several classics for Riccardi Press, including an edition of the Canterbury Tales.

Works by the artist, who received a knighthood in 1947, are available in the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and many public museums in the United States, Canada, and Australia.

Sir William Russell Flint died on December 30, 1969 at the age of 89. He was survived by his son, Francis Murray Russell Flint, also a painter.


Lewis, Ralph. Sir William Russell Flint. Edinburgh and London: Charles Skilton, Ltd., 1980.

"Obituary: Sir William Russell Flint," The Times (London). December 30, 1969. p. 8.

Scope and Content Note

The collection of letters written by Sir William Russell Flint to Kay Pickford spans the dates 1946-1973. Eighty-three items in the collection include seventy-eight letters written by William Russell Flint, two letters written by his son, Francis Russell Flint, and three newspaper clippings.

Sir William Russell Flint addresses his letters to a young artist and family friend, Kay Pickford. According to a newspaper clipping in the collection, Pickford was a London artist, who began painting as a result of Sir Flint's encouragement of her early sketches and paintings. These earliest images depicted her observations of underwater life in waters near Provence, France, where she spent a holiday with Sir Flint and his wife.

William Russell Flint's letters communicate their mutual friendship and his support for the younger artist. In his letters Flint acknowledges Pickford's many kindnesses, gifts, and her hospitality during social occasions, and expresses hardy good wishes for exhibitions of her art. Flint's letters convey their celebration birthdays and holidays, discuss his family, and keep in touch during Flint's travels to Europe. Their deep and abiding friendship is clear throughout the letters, but particularly evident in Flint's expression of sympathy to Pickford at the death of her brother in 1966, and in his gift of a 500-pound legacy given to her in 1961.

The two letters written by Flint's son, Francis Russell Flint, to Pickford are written following Sir Flint's death. One letter is written to forward an unmailed letter from William Russell Flint to Pickford and the other to express greetings and good wishes. Clippings in the collection regard an exhibition of Pickford's painting and comments on the death of William Russell Flint.

Contents List

Folder -- Contents

          Series I.  Sir William Russell Flint letters to Kay Pickford, 1946-1969 

F1   1946-1948
     Ten letters.

F2   1949-1951
     Eight letters.

F3   1954-1956
     Eight letters.

F4   1957-1958
     Eight letters.

F5   1959-1962
     Ten letters.

F6   1963-1964
     Nine letters.

F7   1965-1967
     Nine letters.

F8   1968-1969
     Nine letters and one clipping

F9   [n.d.]
     Nine letters.

          Series II.  Francis Russell Flint letters to Kay Pickford, 1970-1973

F10  1970-1973
     Two letters and two clippings.
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