Sir William Rothenstein

James Bryce, 1st Viscount Bryce, 1838 - 1922. Statesman and ambassador (About 1905)

About this artwork

This coloured chalk drawing shows James Bryce, a statesman and historian who made important contributions to British pre-war politics and academia. Born in Belfast, he was educated in Glasgow and later Oxford, where he became professor of civil law. A Liberal, he entered parliament in 1880, first for the London constituency of Tower Hamlets and later for South Aberdeen. He held various cabinet positions until his appointment as ambassador to the US, from 1907-1913. Meanwhile he gained academic credit for his publications of ‘Holy Roman Empire’ (1864), ‘The American Commonwealth’ (1888) and ‘Impressions’ (1897), the last work being about his visit to South Africa. His 1915 report on German behaviour in Belgium influenced American opinion before the country’s entry into the First World War.

Sir William Rothenstein

Sir William Rothenstein

William Rothenstein was born into a prosperous German Jewish family involved in the Bradford textile trade. Precociously talented, he studied at the Slade School of Art in London and the Académie Julian in Paris (1889-93), where he became a focus for English speaking artists and writers, including Sickert, Whistler, Degas, Verlaine and Oscar Wilde. On his return to London, he became a member of the New English Art Club with whom he frequently exhibited, although his conservative views of art led to his eventual withdrawal from the club. Increasingly in demand as a lecturer, Rothenstein became Principal of the Royal College of Art (1920-35) and a trustee of the Tate Gallery (1927-33). He died in 1945 at his home in Gloucestershire, where he had lived with his wife for over thirty years.