Painter, printmaker, illustrator and stage designer, Albert Rutherston (né Albert Daniel Rothenstein) was born into a prosperous German-Jewish immigrant family in Bradford, England on 12 May 1881; he was the younger brother of the artist William Rothenstein. Rutherston studied at the Slade School of Fine Art (1898-02), alongside Augustus John and William Orpen, where they were known as ‘the three musketeers’. Afterwards, he became a member of the New English Art Club in 1905 and, as a friend of Walter Sickert, briefly joined his Fitzroy Street Group. During the First World War, Rutherston anglicised his name in 1916 as a declaration of British patriotism (as did his brother Charles, who became a noted northern collector of modern art) and served in the army in Egypt and in Palestine.
Rutherston exhibited at the New English Art Club from 1900 and held his first solo exhibition in 1910 at the Carfax Gallery (co-founded by his brother William) in London, but abandoned oil painting after 1912 in favour of decorative designs, watercolour landscapes, stage designs and book illustrations (particularly for the Curwen Press from 1919). He also edited the monograph series Contemporary British Artists published by Charles Scribner’s Sons, and designed costumes, posters and pottery. He returned to oil painting from 1938, after fellow artist Barnett Freedman introduced him to Patricia Koring, who became his model for over a decade, and painted portraits and nudes. He exhibited in London at the Leicester Galleries, during the 1920s and 1930s, and participated in group exhibitions at Ben Uri Gallery in 1937, 1944, and 1951. Rutherston executed some work on Jewish subjects including designs for a noted Haggadah in 1930. He held his first teaching post at Camberwell School of Art, initiating a project in 1920 to revitalise the Oxford School of Drawing, Painting and Design, which was taken over by the Ruskin School, Oxford, where Rutherston was employed as a visiting lecturer, afterwards becoming Ruskin Master of Drawing (1928-48).
Albert Rutherston died in Ouchy-Lausanne, Switzerland on 14 July 1953. His work is held in UK public collections including the Ben Uri Collection, the British Museum, Manchester Art Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, Tate, and the V&A.