HUTCHISON, Sir William Oliphant

1889 - 1970

Sir William Oliphant Hutchison

William Oliphant Hutchinson was born at Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland on 2 July 1889, 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. William was 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 where he also took the opportunity to study at the Académie Delécluse, striking up a lifelong friendship with Scottish artist, [Sir] James Gunn (1893-1964). On his return to Scotland, 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) and became friends with the Walton family and in 1918, he 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 was severely wounded in France and on demobilisation took a studio flat in York Place, Edinburgh where they remained until 1921 when they moved to Mulberry Walk, Chelsea, London and two years later 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 purchased the old vicarage at 'Blyth Hill', Letheringham, near Wickham Market, Suffolk and spent his time either in London or at Letheringham where he was living in 1939 with his wife and two of his children. In 1933, Hutchinson had been elected director of the Glasgow School of Art moving into the upper part of a house in Eglinton Crescent, Edinburgh, converting the principal floor into a studio and living room, remaining director until 1943. In 1937 elected an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy and a full academician in 1943, serving on the council and in 1950, succeeded Sir Frank Mears (1880-1953) 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 Queen Elizabeth II, 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 one of his finest works. His other portraits included Ramsay MacDonald (House of Commons), Dorothy L. Sayers (National Portrait Gallery, London), Sir James Gunn (Royal Scottish Academy), 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. He signed his work 'W. O. Hutchison'.

Royal Academy Exhibits
from Letheringham, Suffolk
1935 461 Leatheringham Mill
         641 Mrs Vyvian Drury and Romaine
1936 255 Homage to A. P. Herbert
         315 Family Tennis
         745 Kitchen Bathroom
1938 845 The Quilted Jacket
1939 144 Presenting Jimmy Snodgrass

Works by This Artist