Sir William Rothenstein – Portrait of William Butler Yeats

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Printed signature: Rothenstein 98 (bottom left). Lithograph, published 1899 (1898) on laid paper. Provenance: Formerly in the collection of Peter Roberts.


Irish poet William Butler Yeats first published his first works in the mid-1880s while a student at Dublin’s Metropolitan School of Art. He eventually dropped out, but he continued to write. Yeats’ early accomplishments included The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems (1889) and such plays as The Countess Kathleen (1892) and Deirdre (1907). In 1923, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Yeats wrote several more influential works after receiving this honor, including The Tower (1928) and Words for Music Perhaps and Other Poems (1932). Yeats died in 1939. He is remembered as one of the most significant modern poets of all time.

Additional information


Sheet: 12 1/2 in. x 11 1/4 in. (31.9 cm x 28.8 cm.)

Frame or Mount

Mount: 22 in x 16 in. (56 cm x 40.5 cm.)


Rothenstein, Sir William (1872-1945)

Printmaker, teacher and writer. He was the son of a wool merchant and delighted in the grim landscape of his native Yorkshire, which was the subject of some early watercolours. His talent was recognized as early as 1891, when an exhibition of his work and that of Charles Conder at the Galerie Hadrien Thomas in Paris attracted the attention of many artists including Pissarro and Degas. After an inspiring four years he left Paris for Oxford where he made a number of portrait lithographs. Rothenstein was also prolific as a painter. In the early 1900s his style gradually evolved towards brighter colours in response to Post-Impressionism, but he never incorporated its more advanced developments into his own art. He had a particular feeling for the landscapes of Gloucestershire, where he lived from 1912 to 1919. During World War I Rothenstein was an Official War Artist to the British and Canadian armies on the Western Front, recording the devastation caused by war. Between 1920 and 1935 he served as Principal of the Royal College of Art, where his pupils included Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. Serious illness prevented him from drawing or painting in the mid 1920s. He had the pleasure of working as an artist almost to the end of his life. His son Michael Rothenstein (1908–93) was also an artist.