About the artist
Was a British artist known for still life and abstract painting
1913: Born in Greenock, Scotland, to Scots-Irish parents
1924: His family moved with his mother, Agnes to Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland
William Scott Biography
Born Greenock, Scotland, son of an Irish father and Scottish mother
returned to father’s home town in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland.
Regarding his childhood he would later say : ‘I was brought up in a grey
world, an austere world: the garden I knew was a cemetery and we had no
Entered Belfast College of Art.
Moved to London, entered the Royal Academy Schools, beginning in sculpture School.
Awarded silver medal for sculpture.
1934 - 1935
Transferred to Painting School.
Awarded Leverhulme Travelling Scholarship.
for six months near Penzance, Cornwall. On this experience he wrote in
1972: ‘I think the first big break came when I went to Cornwall in
1936...I started to think of a primitive realism as something to be
Married Mary Lucas a fellow student at the RA Schools.
1937 - 1938
Lived in Italy for six months, visiting Florence, Venice and Rome.
Moved to Pont Aven, Brittany.
Met Geoffrey Nelson, with whom the Scotts organised the Pont Aven School of Painting.
Scott decided he was not a landscapist, feeling mainly attracted by
man-made things he began focusing on still life, developing a deep
affinity for the tradition of Chardin and Braque.
Elected Societaire du Salon d’Automne, Paris.
Moved to Saint Tropez and Cagnes-sur-Mer , South of France.
Returned to Pont Aven to teach and paint.
Met Mauurice Denis and Emile Bernard.
On The outbreak of war he left France and returned to Britain.
Many paintings were lost in France.
Settled in Dublin
Birth of his son Robert.
Returned to London.
Moved to Hallatrow, Somerset and taught part time at the Bath Academy of Art.
Birth of his son James.
Volunteered for the Army and served with the Royal Engineers for nearly four years.
painting, except for some watercolour landscapes distinguished by the
elimination of details and by the clear-cut construction.
Learnt the technique of lithography while in the map making section of the engineers.
one-man exhibition at the Leger Gallery, Bond Street. In his review
Clive Bell commented that Scott possessed ‘intelligence, a sure sense of
colour, and a gift, a truly remarkable gift of placing.’
Elected a member of the London Group.
was one of the artists invited by the Arts Council to paint a large
picture for the Festival of Britain; he made ‘Still Life 1951’ which
represents his first attempt at a large scale painting.
a studio and apartment in Chelsea, London, but continued to live part
of the year at Hallatrow, with summers often spent in Cornwall.
painter he was now concentrating on the problem of eliminating
recognisable imagery by reducing the forms to very simple, flat , almost
geometrical elements. He wrote later: ‘I longed for a freedom from the
First visit to North America as guest instructor at the summer school of the University of Alberta’s Banff School of Fine Arts.
Returned to England via New York where he met Pollock, Kline, de Kooning, Brooks and other American painters.
was struck by the size and directness of the new American painting, but
returned to Europe convinced that European painters belonged to a
different tradition and should not imitate the Americans. This
conviction led him to a more representational style of painting.
Scott was one of the five painters selected by the British Council to show recent work at the Sao Paulo Bienal.
First exhibition in New York, at the Martha Jackson Gallery.
the Lascaux caves in France, he wrote later: ‘The experience of these
terrific drawings helped me to rethink what art was about. It renewed my
earlier interest in primitivism.’
1946 - 1956
Left the army and returned to Somerset.
on still life arrangements of pots, saucepans, eggs and bottles on a
bare kitchen table. What really concerned him was the relationship of a
few simple shapes and their arrangement and spacing against the plastic
emptiness of the backgrounds. The paint was applied thinly, the colours
were clear and tonally precise, the effect gleaming and immaculate,
creating a kind of contrast between the austerity of the subject and the
richness of the qualities of paint and colour.
Appointed senior Painting Master at the Bath Academy of Art (now at Corsham Court), famous then for its avant-garde atmosphere.
1956 - 1957
in studio at Hallatrow making many drawings in charcoal and pencil.
Scott stated: ‘I felt during these years that much abstract art had
reached a point of mere pattern -making, and without a desire to
illustrate I wanted a picture to be about something.’
Awarded first prize in the British painting section at the second John Moores Liverpool Exhibition.
a mural for Altnagelvin Hospital Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The
work measured 9 x 45 feet and, as a result of its big dimensions, had
the effect of accelerating Scott’s development of a completely
non-figurative style; from this point on his pictures tended to be
larger, made of simpler forms (usually irregular variants of the square
and the circle) and large expanses of colour, whereas their shapes were
often cut off by the edges of the composition as to suggest the picture
as a section of a larger field.
Retrospective exhibition at the XXIX Venice Biennale.
Exhibited at the VI Sao Paulo Bienal; awarded Sanbra (International Critics) Purchase Prize.
Scott’s work is subsequently shown in Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires.
Invited by the Ford Foundation to be an artist in residence near Bath.
Began a partial return to still life scenes.
Retrospective at the Tate Gallery, London.
Visited Australia, Mexico and India as visiting lecturer for the British Council.
Honorary Doctor of the Royal College of Art.
Honorary Doctor of Literature, Queen’s University, Belfast.
Visited Japan where he exhibited at the Kasahara Gallery.
Honorary Doctor of Literature, Trinity College, Dublin.
Elected to the Royal Academy
Diagnosed as having Alzheimer.
Featured in the Channel 4 film ‘Every Picture Tells a Story.’
Awarded the Korn Ferry prize at the Royal Academy Exhibition.
Retrospective exhibition at the Ulster Museum, Belfast and touring.
Died on 28th December.