William Scott, CBE, RA, 1913-1989


William Scott was born in Greenock, Scotland, to Scots/Irish parents. His father was a decorator and house painter. When William was 11 years of age, the family moved close to relatives in Iniskillen, NI.


William Scott, Self Portrait, 1951

He became the most internationally celebrated of the Ulster painters. He attended the Belfast School of Art, and in 1931was awarded a scholarship to the RA Schools.
He was originally granted a place as a sculptor, but at his request was transferred to painting.


William Scott, Portrait of Mrs. Field-Reid, c1933

He was obviously very talented and became a Landseer Scholar in painting, and also won a siver medal.


Young Man, 1937; Mary, c1936; Old Lady

Robert, 1947; Girl


Seated Girl, 1941

William shared rooms in London with Alfred James, Mervyn Levy and the poet Dylan Thomas.
He was awarded a Levershulme Scholarship in 1935.
He married Hilda in 1937, and for two years lived in France and Italy, where at the beginning of WWII he founded an art school in Pont-Aven in Brittany, which no longer exists in its original form, but is now a centre for contemporary art. During the early years of the war he helped to organise an art school in Bath.

Breton nude; Seated nude, 1939

In 1942 he volunteered for the Navy, but was accepted by the Army and attached to the Royal Engineers, where he served until 1946, and where he learned lithography in the mapmaking section.
Between 1946 and 1956, William was senior lecturer in painting at Bath Academy of Art, where he produced mainly abstract images.

Abstract Paintings

Top row
Berlin Blues 4, 1965, Private Collection
Orange, Black & White Composition, 1953, Tate, St Ives
Cup, Bowl, Pan, Browns and Ochres, 1970
Bottom row
Grey, white & black, 1962; Cornish Harbour, 1951; Red Figure, 1954, Jerwood Gallery, Hastings

In the summer of 1953 he travelled to the USA, where he met Jackson Pollock, Elaine de Kooning, Franz Kline and Mark Rothko.
After this, his work reverted to his roots in still life or European painting.

Top row
Still-Life Apples and Pears; Girl & Bird Cage, 1948, Brighton Art Gallery; Blue Still Life
Second row
Blue and White, 1958; Bowl and Frying Basket, 1950; Still-Life with Candlestick
Third row
The Black CockerelCup, Bowl, Pan, Browns and Ochres, 1970
Fourth row
Figures in a Welsh Village, 1944-1945; Fish Still-Life Blue, 1982
Fifth row
Hare and Candle, 1950, Private collection; Lovers in a Wood, 1945; Five Pears
Bottom row
Pears on a Black Plate, 1977; A Perfect Place, 1967; Sennen, 1950

He died at his home in Bath in 1989.

Retrospectives: Tate, 1972; Edinburgh, Dublin & Belfast, 1986; Irish Museum of Modern Art, 1998; Jerwood Gallery, Hastings, 2013.

He was also a potter and sculptor,


and was described as “the painter who made the everyday into a masterpiece”.

MH, Meeting No 16, 01/05/2018

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