Originally a pupil of Legros’s, Rothenstein’s spiritual ancestry might be said to date from Courbet and was populated successively by the figures of Jean François Millet, Delacroix, Géricault, Daumier, Corot, Ingres, Puvis de Chavannes, the Impressionists and Rodin.
Augustus John wrote:
It was at Vattetot that W.R. painted The Doll’s House for which Alice Rothenstein and I posed. This is a regular problem picture. I am portrayed standing at the foot of a staircase upon which Alice has un accountably seated herself. I appear to be ready for the road, for I am carrying a mackintosh on my arm and am shod and hatted. But Alice seems to hesitate. Can she have changed her mind at the last moment? But what could have been her intention? Perhaps the weather had changed for the worse and made a promenade inadvisable: but we shall never know. The picture will remain a perpetual enigma, to disturb, fascinate or repel'.
These remarks point to Rothenstein’s essential romanticism and his penchant for the dramatic.