COLDSTREAM, Sir William Menzies

1908 - 1987

Sir William Menzies Coldstream

William Menzies Coldstream was born at Belford, Northumberland on 28 February 1908, youngest of the five children of Dr George Probyn Coldstream (16 August 1870-13 February 1950), M.D., who was born in Lahore, Punjab, and his wife Susan Jane Lilian Tod (28 July 1869-17 April 1960), known as Lilian, daughter of Major Robert Mercer-Tod of St Leonards, who married at St Mary Magdalen Church, St Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex on 25 April 1895. In 1911, William was a 3-year-old living at 10 Garlinge Road, Hampstead, London with his parents, 40-year-old George and 41-year-old Susan and three of his siblings. Educated privately, he studied at the Slade School of Fine Art 1926-1929, under Professor Tonks (1862-1937) and at University College, London. At University College, he met Nancy Culliford Sharp (1909-2001), whom he married in London on 22 July 1931, and they had two daughters, but the marriage was not a success. With Graham Bell (1910-1943), Victor Pasmore (1908-1998) and Claude Rogers (1907-1979), they co-founded the Euston Road School in 1937. At the start of the Second World War, William enlisted in the Royal Artillery and in 1943, appointed a War Artist and worked in Egypt and Italy. His earlier years were characterised by a dedicated engagement with socialist ideals, and in the pursuit of a non-elitist form of art. During this period, he was close friends with the composer Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) and with the writers W. H. Auden (1907-1973) and Christopher Isherwood (1904-1986). In November 1945, Coldstream was a visiting teacher at Camberwell School of Arts & Crafts, and later its professor but in 1949, he returned to the Slade School as Principal and Professor of Fine Art. In the Queen's Birthday Honours List in 1956, Coldstream was appointed as a Knight Bachelor, and in 1960 married his model, Mary Monica Hoyer (1935-25 January 2018) of Bude, Cornwall by whom he had a son and two daughters. He retired from the Slade School in 1975, but continued to paint until 1984, when his health was in marked decline. A charismatic figure in the London art world of the mid-twentieth century, William Menzies Coldstream died in the Royal Homeopathic Hospital in London on 18 February 1987. His connection with Suffolk is tenuous but he made regular visits to the Blyth estuary from 1968, usually staying at Southwold or Walberswick.

Royal Academy Exhibits
from Slade School of Fine Art, University College, Gower Street, London WC 1
1960 14 Mrs Winifred Burger. Purchased under the terms of the Chantrey Bequest

Works by This Artist