Sir William Coldstream

(1908—1987) artist and arts administrator

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(b Belford, Northumberland, 28 Feb. 1908; d London, 18 Feb. 1987).

British painter, mainly of portraits, but also of landscape and still life. He studied at the Slade School, 1926–9, and worked on documentary films for the GPO, 1934–7. In 1937 he was one of the founders of the Euston Road School, which helped to establish a tradition of sober figurative painting of which he was one of the main representatives. In 1939 he joined the Royal Artillery and in 1943–5 he was an Official War Artist, working in the Near East and then Italy. After the war he taught at Camberwell School of Art, 1945–9, then was professor at the Slade School, 1949–75. He exerted an important influence not only through his teaching but also through his appointment as chairman of the National Advisory Council on Art Education in 1959. The Coldstream Report of 1960 helped to change the structure of art school teaching in Britain, eventually leading to degree status being awarded to recognized art school courses. Coldstream's own work was typically austerely naturalistic. Kenneth Clark had been an early supporter, but he came to see Coldstream's attitude to art as one of ‘dismal rectitude’.

Subjects: Art.

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