William George Gillies was born in Haddington. He trained at Edinburgh College of Art and later studied in Paris and Italy where he was influenced by Munch, Matisse and Bonnard. He remained however strongly attached to Scotland and almost all his painting reflects his native country. In 1925 he was appointed to the staff of Edinburgh College of Art and he remained there, retiring as Principal in 1966. Through forty uninterrupted years as a teacher his influence on Scottish painting of the twentieth century was profound. Although Gillies painted a few portraits and experimented with abstraction in the 1930s, he concentrated on still life painting and, above all else, the landscape of Scotland.