Albert Rutherston


Rutherston, Albert; The Pump, Nash End; Tate;

Rutherston, Albert; The Pump, Nash End; Tate Gallery.

The name of the artist Albert Rutherston is not one that appears in most art histories but I have come to regard him as important to an understanding of British Art at the end of the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth century.                                                                                                                       So!! Who is ALBERT RUTHERSTON?  Born in Bradford to a wealthy Textile Merchant of German origin, family name Rothenstein, Albert had two brothers, Charles and William. During the run up to, and during, WW! many families with German sounding surnames changed their names – Charles and Albert decided to adopt a new surname – Rutherston.  William refused to abandon the historic family name of ‘Rothenstein’.  William and Albert went on to become artists whilst Charles became an important art collector.   Both Albert and William went on to the new and radical Slade School of Fine Art, recently created as part of University College, London.  They also both went on to become active members of the newly formed radical informal art group – the New English Art Club.  Max Beerbohm’s cartoon of members of the New English Art Club indicate the differing personalities of the brothers with William standing, pontificating, on top of a table with brother William under the table!!!!

The New English Art Club 1907 Sir Max Beerbohm 1872-1956 Purchased 1952

The New English Art Club 1907 Sir Max Beerbohm 1872-1956

Whilst William, quite rightly so, went on to become noted as a major figure in British Art of the twentieth century it seems Charles almost got forgotten. For me the realisation of the importance of Charles Rutherston came in a very surprising way. Wandering around a large garden centre near Oxford I came across, in the midst of garden equipment, a second-hand book ‘kiosk’ – on browsing the shelves I came across a slim hard-back book titled “Memoirs of an Art Student”, the author being Albert Rutherston!!!!!

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