Sir William MacTaggart

(1903 Loanhead - 1981 Edinburgh)


He was a grandson of William MacTaggart (1835 - 1910), one of the most influential Scottish painters. Trained at the Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) between 1918 and 1921, where he made friends with William Gillies, William Geissler, Ann Redpath and William Crozier. The latter joined him on some of his trips to the South of France, made for the sake of MacTaggart's poor health, as well as painting opportunities. His first exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) was in 1921, and in 1922 he was elected to the Scottish Society of Artists (SSA) and became a founding member of the 1922 Group.  In 1924 held his first one-man show at Cannes. He preferred pastels to watercolours and his outlook shifted dramatically after the Edvard Munch exhibition SSA in 1931. The exhibition was a catalyst for MacTaggart and other artists  of his generations , who begun seeing themselves as part of the northern tradition of expressionists such as Munch, Ensor and Nolde. MacTaggart was also influenced by some of the French artists especially Georges Roualt.  These artists used colour and thick layers of paint to express their emotions. In 1937 he married Fanny Aavatsmark, a Norwegian curator who organised Munch's exhibition in Edinburgh in 1931. MacTaggart was one of the artists who found an expression of Scottish consciousness in local landscape.

He started teaching in the ECA in 1933 to 1958, and became the President of SSA in 1933-1936. MacTaggart was elected Associate Member of the RSA in 1937,  and an Academician in 1948. He was also a member of the Royal Academy in London, and in 1962 he was knighted.

Nocturnal Edinburgh, pastel on buff paper,  28x38.5cm