Born in 1915 in Beauford West, Alexander Rose-Innes developed an aptitude for drawing at an early age. The Rose-Innes family moved to Port Elizabeth in 1927, where he began his art studies at the Art School of the Port Elizabeth Technical College, under Francis Pickford and Jack Heath. After completing his studies, he enrolled as an apprentice sign-writer, continuing to pursue his art in his free time.
Rose-Innes was a painter of “everyday situations like women selling flowers, people sitting in pubs and girls chatting” (Bekker, 1991: 28). He had particular interest in the scenes of the Cape Malay Quarter and District Six, figures and portraits of common people such as blacksmiths and fishermen, as well as the simplicity of still life compositions, Cape landscapes and domestic interiors. Rose-Innes portrays sensitivity towards his subject matter – always rendered in warm, subdued tones and following realistic conventions. The absence of strong colour notes, together with the use of close-up views, contributes to a sense of intimacy in his work.