William Scott was a modern British painter known best for his abstract and still life works. He was born in Scotland but moved to Northern Ireland as a child. He studied at the Belfast School of Art before transferring to the Royal Academy Schools, initially to study sculpture. He entered the Painting School in 1934. He learned lithography not at art school but while he was attached to the Royal Engineers during World War II.
He was connected to some of the modern British artists known for working in and being inspired by St Ives in Cornwall. He also met many of the prominent American artists of the time, such as Jackson Pollock and Elaine de Kooning. His work had been primarily abstract until he met with the Abstract Expressionists, after which he returned to still life work.
He showed at the Leicester Galleries and the Hanover Gallery in London in the 1940s and 1950s. In 1951 Scott was invited by the Arts Council to exhibit at the Festival of Britain. In 1958 he represented Great Britain at the Venice Biennale and in 1961 he won the Sanbra (International Critics) Purchase Prize at the São Paulo Bienal. He was made a CBE in 1966 and a Royal Academician in 1984, having become an associate member of the RA in 1977.
Retrospectives of Scott's work have been held at the Tate Gallery and the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin. His pieces are held in several esteemed collections, such as the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.