Michael Rothenstein (1908-1993) was enormously prolific throughout his career of almost half a century, during which his vision and restless energy enabled him to extend the boundaries of printmaking. He earned a worldwide reputation as one of the most exciting British printmakers of the twentieth century. Rothenstein gave to British art a particular liveliness and joie de vivre, a relish for the physical world and a sensual flair for colour and texture in both paintings and prints that went beyond the coolly measured aptitude for design that distinguishes the work of his friend and near-contemporary Edward Bawden. There is a kind of trustful innocence and light-hearted idealism, praising the domesticated physical world and loving its 20th-century visual language, that is oddly affecting in Rothenstein's best work. It comes from the purity of vision and spirit of rededication shared by most of the notable British artists who were young just after the murderous 1914-18 war. Michael Rothenstein kept its faith alive. Rothenstein published a number of books, including Frontiers of Printmaking, 1966, Relief Printing, 1970, Suns and Moons, 1972, and the folio Song of Songs, 1979.
Rothenstein showed in major London galleries and had a retrospective at Stoke on Trent City Museum and Art Gallery, and touring, 1989-90. Posthumous exhibitions included Flowers Graphics, 1995, Braintree District Museum, 1996, and in 2004 a show at Gainsborough's Housed, Sudbury, of Rothenstein's prints, entitled An Exotic Menagerie, and Michael Rothenstein - Printmaker at Fry Art Gallery, Saffron Walden.
Tate Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum, British Museum and Museum of Modern Art in New York hold his work. Made Hon. RE and elected RA, 1983.