William MacTaggart was born in Loanhead, the grandson of William McTaggart, also a painter. He studied at Edinburgh College of Art, visited Paris, then set up a studio in Edinburgh. With fellow ECA graduates William Gillies, William Crozier and William Geissler he started an exhibiting society - the 1922 Group.
Anne Redpath and John Maxwell were also contemporaries and friends. This group later became known as the Edinburgh School. He was also a younger member of the Society of Eight which included Scottish Colourists Peploe and Cadell. In 1931 he was influenced by a Munch exhibition in Edinburgh, and in 1937 married the Norwegian Fanny Aavatsmark, organiser of that exhibition. This is one of two MacTaggart works in the collection.