William Rothenstien was born into a German-Jewish family in Bradford,
During the 1890s, Rothenstein exhibited with the New English Art Club, he was influenced by impressionism and mainly specialized in portraits and landscapes. He was interested in painting famous individuals and published several sets of lithographs of famous men of the time.
He became Official War Artist for both the First and Second World War. In his later career he was better known as a teacher than a painter. He became Professor of Civic Art,
He died on 14 February 1945.