From Bradford to Benares: William Rothenstein in Context

'The Browning Readers' by William Rothenstein, 1900

‘The Browning Readers’ by William Rothenstein, 1900

‘The recent memorial exhibition at the Tate Gallery of works by the late Sir William Rothenstein, held five years after his death, poses a problem that can no longer be avoided. Where exactly does Rothenstein stand in the account of English painting of the first quarter of this century?’ (Home Affairs Survey, August 15th 1950)

On March 14th, The Cartwright Hall Gallery in Bradford will hold a one-day symposium dedicated to the life and work of the artist Sir William Rothenstein (1872-1945), coinciding with the first major exhibition of his work since 1972. The discussion will focus on the question posed above: Where does Rothenstein fit within the narrative/s of late nineteenth and early twentieth century art?

Particular attention will be paid to a series of important cultural encounters that changed the direction of the artist’s life and work. These include: his early training in Paris, turn-of-the-century visits to Spain and Germany, years spent painting in the Jewish East End, his 1910 trip to India, interwar years living in rural Gloucestershire, experiences as a war artist in two World Wars, and his ongoing, sometimes fraught relationship with his home city, Bradford. Although Rothenstein’s life ‘beyond the easel’ will also be discussed (including his roles as critic, collector, patron, gallery-founder and professor), the main aim of the discussion, like the exhibition, will be to put the spotlight on his achievements as a painter, draughtsman and print-maker.

The symposium will involve a series of short talks by leading scholars and curators, an exhibition tour, and a round-table discussion. The event is open to academics, researchers and all those with a general interest in Rothenstein and art of this period. All attendees are invited to share their own experiences of looking at Rothenstein’s art.



Samuel Shaw (Yale Center for British Art): Rothenstein and the Bradford Context
Anna Gruetzner Robins (University of Reading): Rothenstein and Rodin
Sophie Hatchwell (University of Bristol): Rothenstein, Romanticism and The Quarry
Rowena Fowler (Independent scholar): Rothenstein as Reader

12.30-1.00: Lunch


Sarah MacDougall (Ben Uri Gallery): Rothenstein and Mark Gertler
Rachel Dickson (Ben Uri Gallery): Rothenstein and Jacob Kramer
Helen Brown (Independent curator): Rothenstein in Gloucestershire
Sarah Victoria Turner (Paul Mellon Centre): Rothenstein and India

2.45-4: Discussion in the gallery

To book a place at this free symposium contact: or 01274 431212. For further information e-mail The symposium will run from c.11 am- 4pm.

One response to “From Bradford to Benares: William Rothenstein in Context

  1. Reblogged this on art in the periphery and commented:
    Relatively little known artists such as William Rothenstein, that do not easily fit in a pattern of evolution of a national school, are great examples for the study of problems that relate to the periphery. In this case, his numerous trips and cultural encounters add to the complexity and fascination.

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