HUTCHISON, Sir William Oliphant

1889 - 1970

Sir William Oliphant Hutchison

Born at Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland on 2 July 1889, the fifth child in the family of four sons and two daughters of Henry William Hutchison of Kinloch, a Kirkcaldy businessman, and his wife, Sarah Hannah née Key. Educated at Kirkcaldy High School, Cargilfield School, Edinburgh, and later at Rugby School. As a boy he showed considerable promise as an artist and wished to become a painter but his family were set on him entering business. In 1911 he spent a period in Paris, primarily to perfect his French but he also took this opportunity to study at the Atelier Delecluse striking up a lifelong friendship with Scottish artist, [Sir] James Gunn (1893-1964). On his return he entered the family timber business but, with his father's permission, entered Edinburgh College of Art having a portrait of his younger sister Nancy exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy in 1911. Whilst studying in Edinburgh he came under the influence of watercolourist Edward Arthur Walton (1860-1922) becoming friendly with the Walton family and 1918, married their youngest daughter Margery (born 17 October 1898) and they had two sons, Henry Peter (21 March 1920-2002) and Robert Edward (born 1922), and a daughter Helen Elizabeth Anne(born 19 June 1935), later Mrs Henry Noel. Hutchison served in the Great War and severely wounded in France. On demobilization, he took a studio flat in York Place, Edinburgh where they remained until 1921, when they moved to Mulberry Walk, Chelsea, London but two years later moved to Ladbroke Road, Holland Park. Hutchison practised as a portrait painter with some measure of success, exhibiting regularly at the Royal Academy. In 1929 Hutchison bought the old vicarage at 'Blyth Hill' Letheringham, near Wickham Market, Suffolk and spent his time either in London or Suffolk and in 1939 was living there with his wife and two of his children. In 1933 elected director of the Glasgow School of Art remaining director until 1943 moving into the upper part of a house in Eglinton Crescent, Edinburgh converting the principal floor into a studio and living-room. In 1937 elected an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy and a full academician in 1943 serving on the council of the academy and in 1950 succeeded Sir Frank Mears as president being knighted in 1953. About 1960 he returned to London, where he had maintained a studio at Cheniston Gardens Studios, Kensington since shortly after the Second World War. Elected a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in 1948 and was its president in 1965. He painted many distinguished people, including the queen, Prince Philip, and the queen mother, his full-length portrait of the queen in Thistle robes, painted for the Edinburgh Merchant Company in 1956, is probably one of his finest works. Among his other portraits can be included Ramsay MacDonald (House of Commons), Dorothy L. Sayers (National Portrait Gallery, London), Sir James Gunn (his diploma picture in the Royal Scottish Academy, which is perhaps his finest male portrait), and Sir Sydney A. Smith, for which he received a gold medal in the Paris Salon of 1961. Hutchison continued working up until his death at his home at 30 Oakwood Court, Kensington, London, on 5 February 1970. Kirkcaldy Art Gallery contains his paintings, both portraits and landscapes, given by the artist including a portrait of the artist's mother.

Works by This Painter