English painter and writer on art. His best-known painting is A Doll's House (1899; Tate Gallery, London). Other work includes decorations for St Stephen's Hall, Westminster, London, and portrait drawings. He was principal of the Royal College of Art from 1920 to 1935, where he encouraged the sculptors Jacob Epstein and Henry Moore, and the painter Paul Nash. He was knighted in 1931.
Rothenstein was born in Bradford, Yorkshire, trained at the Slade School and in Paris, and was encouraged by Degas and Whistler. At the age of 19 he began a series of portrait drawings, including many literary personalities. In World War I he served as an official artist in France with the British and Canadian forces.
His work includes lithographs and etchings, as well as landscapes, portraits, and interiors in oils, and is represented in the principal galleries of Great Britain, the Dublin Gallery of Modern Art, and in the Metropolitan Museum of New York. A visit to India had a marked influence on his ideas, and in 1910 he took an active part in the formation of the India Society to promote an appreciation of Indian art.
His publications include English Portraits (1898), Manchester Portraits (1899), Life of Goya (1900), A Plea for Wider Use of Artists and Craftsmen (1917), Ancient India (1926), and three volumes of memoirs: Men and Memories (1931–39).
His elder son John Knewstub Maurice Rothenstein (1901–1992) was director of the Tate Gallery, London, from 1938 to 1964.
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