William Scott was born in Greenock, Scotland and studied at Belfast School of Art and the Royal Academy Schools in London. His early paintings are mostly of still life, harbour or single figures, usually subjects without any literary or anecdotal overtones. The figures and objects exist in a near-illusionistic space and are painted with economy and clarity. During the course of the 1950s, when many artists were turning abstraction, Scott also became interested in giving his pictures a life of their own and in absorbing objects into their pictorial structure. Although his works always referred to a object, they bear only a distant resemblance. Table tops were tipped forward into the picture plane and kitchen utensils flattened; very often the paintings consisted of arrangements of squares, oblongs and ovals of colour. Although he worked with a limited vocabulary of forms he achieved a surprising variety of effects through his concern with the division of spaces and forms, and through his inventiveness as a colourist: moving from black and white to a range of burnt orange and red, from cool colours to hot.