Sir William Oliphant Hutchison

Walter Rankin, fl. 1940. Local Defence Volunteer ('Home Guard') (1940)

About this artwork

The Home Guard, officially known as the Local Defence Volunteers (LDV) emerged during World War II. Those who were too old serve in the armed forces but wanted to contribute to the war effort were organised in volunteer groups. When the Scottish National Portrait Gallery acquired this portrait, the name of the sitter had been lost, but he was later identified as Walter Rankin, a retired newsagent of the Skelmorlie LDV unit. His good-humoured face and the everyday objects on the table form a poignant contrast to the military uniform and rifle propped against the table.

Sir William Oliphant Hutchison

Sir William Oliphant Hutchison

The son of a Kirkcaldy businessman, William Oliphant Hutchison studied at Edinburgh College of Art and in Paris. He was part of the group of young painters who exhibited as the Edinburgh Group immediately before and after the First World War. Surviving a severe war wound, from 1918 he lived in Edinburgh and London, practising as a portrait painter. In 1933 he became Director of Glasgow School of Art and distinguished himself as an able administrator especially during the war years, when he was in constant touch with students and staff on the front. He was knighted in 1953.