Willibald Wolf Rudinoff was born in Germany of Eastern European Jewish descent. He is known alternatively as Willi, Willy or Wilhelm and sometimes with the surname Morgenstern. His youth was spent as a fire-eater in the circus and nightclub singer (specializing in imitating animal sounds), who never traveled without his self-designed etching press. At 6 foot 2 inches he must have made quite an impression!
Around 1900 he gave up the circus for fine art which he studied seriously in Munich and Paris, all the while continuing his singing performances in concert halls around the world. And everywhere he went, he brought his 400 lb printing press and all the equipment and paper needed to produce an etching. Despite this unorthodox career path, he was a respected etcher and watercolorist and it should come as no surprise that circus people and performers were featured in many of his works.