Emeritus professor and art collector;
Born: February 15, 1924; Died: July 13, 2012.
Henry Walton, who has died aged 88, was a world-renowned psychiatrist and medical educationist and outstanding art collector.
He was once a young medical student who toyed with the idea of becoming a painter. In the end his passion for psychiatry overtook his love of art, at least in his professional career. But the two remained intertwined. Art, he believed, was a necessity in everyone's life.
While he went on to achieve an impressive reputation as a psychiatrist and medical educationist, he also fostered the notion of art for its therapeutic value, helping to create Paintings in Hospitals and Art and Disability Scotland while amassing an extraordinary private collection.
Gathered over a lifetime with his late wife, the renowned child psychiatrist Sula Wolff, it ranged from early Chinese pottery to a £15 Joan Eardley painting, Picasso and Rembrand prints, and is possibly the best collection in the country.
While at one time 300 paintings would cover the walls of their Edinburgh townhouse, today they are, in keeping with Prof Walton's ethos, accessible to all as a bequest to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.
Born in South Africa, he studied medicine at the University of Cape Town, where he spent the holidays painting and considering which road to take. Medicine won and he qualified in 1945, later training in neurology and psychiatry before being invited to the UK as a senior registrar at the Maudsley Hospital in London in the mid-1950s. There he met Dr Sula Wolff and the couple married in 1957.
That year he returned to South Africa, as head of Cape Town University's department of psychiatry, but by 1962 was a senior lecturer in psychiatry at Edinburgh University where he became professor until 1985.
In 1986, in a world first, he was appointed professor of international medical education by Edinburgh University and travelled the world lecturing, presiding at medical education conferences and working closely with bodies including the World Health Organisation, United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation and the World Bank.
He was a founder of the UK's Society for Research in Higher Education and chaired its council in the 1970s. He served as president of the World Federation for Medical Education, initiating and promoting major programmes for the reform of medical education worldwide, and founded the Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE) of which he was honorary life president from 1986.
Widely honoured for his work in medical education, he held honorary doctorates from numerous universities, edited the journal Medical Education for many years, wrote or co-authored various reports and books including the best-selling paperback Alcoholism, and in 2009 was presented with the AMEE's life achievement award in recognition of his contribution to medical education across the world.
Having first become interested in art as a teenager – Oriental rugs initially – and bought his first painting, an image of boats by a German artist, his travels across the globe allowed him to build up a truly eclectic collection of work. While attending a conference, for example, he would pop out to the nearest auction house or print dealers in his lunch break.
For Prof Walton, visual art was hugely important, and he believed it had the power to benefit existence, resulting in him being the driving force behind Paintings in Hospitals Scotland, now Art in Healthcare, and becoming founding chairman of Art and Disability Scotland. He also collected to expand his own knowledge.
Though he did not necessarily spend huge amounts on pieces, collecting art became a compulsion and he needed to know all he could about each piece, buying every available book on the subject of each artwork.
But he only bought what he liked. At one time he had a huge collection of Japanese pieces, other works included those by Picasso, Goya, Rembrandt and Hockney, African and Oceanic sculpture and Oriental ceramics. The collection centred on printmaking and he was a past chairman of the Edinburgh Printmakers' board of governors.
A snazzy dresser, his wardrobe ranged from Topman to drainpipe jeans and fabulous ties, he was quite the showman and the perfect foil to his wife's more restrained designer elegance.
While he would prefer to have a room plastered with 33 paintings, she would advocate a minimalist hanging of three or four. Yet they fitted together very well as a couple.
Amusing and entertaining, they often threw parties where their broad circle of friends would find everything beautifully presented. Alongside the Waltons' art, they would also find shelves packed with books of poetry.
An ardent reader, the charismatic Prof Walton could recite reams of poetry, performing something of a party trick. If someone threw out a line of Shakespeare he would effortlessly complete the stanza and could generally be relied upon to come up with a few lines of poetry corresponding exactly to any particular situation.
Together, he and his wife were an amazing couple with a boundless passion and enthusiasm for art, whose collection reflected their connoisseurship, said John Leighton, director-general of the National Galleries of Scotland. "Prof Henry Walton was an extraordinarily generous friend and supporter of the National Galleries."
Mr Walton was predeceased by his wife Sula and a celebration of both their lives is planned following his private funeral.
We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules, which are available here.
Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.