William Coldstream (1908-1987)

A loan exhibition of paintings to coincide with the publication of the catalogue raisonné.

Coldstream was a British realist painter and well respected teacher. His mastery of measurement and ability to exactly capture his subject is demonstrated by the works that he created with great concentration and focus.

Coldstream was born in Northumberland in 1908, and attended the Slade School between 1926 and 1929, where he returned twenty years later as its Principal and Professor of Fine Art. He was an influential teacher, and echoes of his style can be found in the work of his students – in particular, Euan Uglow. Before returning to the Slade, Coldstream co-founded what came to be known as the Euston Road School, along with Claude Rogers and Victor Pasmore. During World War Two, Coldstream travelled on behalf of the War Artist’s Advisory Committee, painting landscapes of Italy and Egypt, as well as portraits of servicemen. Awarded a CBE in 1952, Coldstream was a key member of various institutions, where he affected a great deal of change. His two ‘Coldstream’ reports, published in 1960 and 1970, advocated for art education and laid out the requirements for a new Diploma in Art and Design. Throughout his life, Coldstream remained socially and politically conscious, concerns that also permeated his artistic practice. His own work was methodical and highly focused; his portraits reliant on extensive sittings that could often take months.

This exhibition showcases Coldstream’s development in style, technique and subject matter across his long career; from his first works created at the Slade in 1926, to his landscapes of Egypt and Italy during the Second World War, to intimate portraits and still-lifes painted in the last decade of his life.