John Wonnacott

Sir Adam Thomson, b. 1926. Founder and chairman of British Caledonian Airways (1986)

About this artwork

A former pilot and flying instructor, Adam Thomson founded Caledonian Airways in 1961. British Caledonian Airways, with its tartan-clad cabin crew, was the largest independent UK airline until it was taken over by its arch-rival, British Airways, in 1988. This portrait was painted in Hangar 3 of Gatwick Airport, the focus of British Caledonian's operations. Perched on a beam below the roof is the small figure of artist John Wonnacott, enjoying a bird's eye view of this busy scene.

John Wonnacott

John Wonnacott

Wonnacott was born in London and trained at the Slade School from 1958 to 63 where he was taught by Frank Auerbach and Michael Andrews. He emerged as an ambitious representative of the figurative tradition, painting landscapes as well as portraits. His work has been described as 'heroic' in reference to the large scale on which he works and the complexity of his compositions. Recent commissions include the portraits of Fleet Admiral Lord Lewin (1999, National Maritime Museum) and the Royal Family (2000, National Portrait Gallery, London).