Artist William Crozier was a haemophiliac whose career lasted just one

decade. Clare Henry reports on his short, but productive, life and an

exhibition in Edinburgh which includes some of his work

WINTERS in the south of France with Anne Redpath, or in Italy with

William Gillies. Trips to Sienna, Perugia, and Assisi; a studio shared

with MacTaggart in Edinburgh with a view over the Firth of Forth. Sounds

good? But William Crozier suffered from haemophilia and only enjoyed his

career for one short decade, from 1920 till his death in 1930.

Thus he is the least-known member of the Edinburgh School, but

detective work by Ann Simpson has uncovered much new information and

several finds, including a fine oil of Candlemaker Row, lots of sketches

and photographs, even a ''swop'' from Redpath. These works, along with

30 paintings, 20 watercolours, and prints, make up the exhibition at

Edinburgh's National Gallery of Modern Art.

Crozier was born in Edinburgh in 1893, son of a printer's compositor.

His sister, conscious that she would pass on haemophilia, never had

children, so the family died out, making research more difficult. Art

historians usually leave it too late before capturing contemporary

artists' memories. Now, due to the exhibition, people are phoning up

with snippets of information.

Simpson has managed to establish Crozier's age -- four years older

than previously thought -- and that he attended George Herriot's School

from 1903-9 before a playground accident invalided him for nine months.

Having turned to painting as a way of being creative at his own pace, he

bravely enrolled at Edinburgh College of Art at the age of 22.

At art school, Crozier landed on his feet. A likeable, intelligent man

and good conversationalist, he found himself at the centre of a lively

group of friends who appreciated him ''quite apart from his gifts as a

painter, as a kind of oasis in the illiterate and philistine deserts of

the Scottish studios''.

Still in its first decade in 1916, Edinburgh College of Art was

steadfastly conservative, teachers adhering to the nineteenth-century

academic tradition with its emphasis on tonal analysis to the exclusion

of colour. The college notably failed to recognise the more pioneering

artists who were around at the time, people 15 or 20 years older, like

Peploe, Cadell, and Fergusson. Later, Crozier developed a great

admiration for Peploe and his influence can be seen in Red Roofs,

Pennan, and Cork Trees.

Like MacTaggart, Crozier never completed his Edinburgh diploma course,

but by 1922 was winning prizes at the RSA including a travel award which

took him to Paris. Along with MacTaggart, he was a founder member of the

1922 Group, 11 graduates who, frustrated by lack of exhibition space for

the young, put on their own shows from 1923-31.

Crozier's breakthrough came in Paris where he attended Andre Lhote's

new Academie Montparnasse and studied in the Louvre. Lhote taught

students to reduce a subject to its essential geometry and to use a

limited palette. Derain's 1920s cubist landscapes also had a big impact

on Crozier.

After Paris came Florence -- where Crozier met up with Gillies --

Ravenna and Venice. As with Picasso and Braque previously, the

stacked-up architecture of Tuscan hill towns was to prove a useful

cubist motif, although Crozier never tried abstraction, merely a

simplified geometrical, decorative approach to structure.

His pictures of Edinburgh also used geometric analysis, the cuboid

terraces and gable ends strangely softened as though made from soggy

cardboard. Edinburgh from Salisbury Crags and Edinburgh in Snow are his

best known pictures. These images are very much of the period, Crozier's

muted palette of greys, ochres, and dull browns redolent of the thirties

slump. Tonally low key and dispirited, these lonely grey scenes with

their solitary single figures have a sadness which echoes that difficult


Towards the end of his life Crozier, by now on the council of the SSA,

a winner of the Guthrie Prize and an ARSA, painted more colourful,

mainly Italian landscapes. His favourite composition of a road winding

into the distance, appears in several including his last, perhaps best

oil, Roslin. A Room with a View, Fiesole, is also a rare summer scene,

vibrant and joyous in reds and gold.

It's important to keep historical discoveries in perspective.

Crozier's is a small talent, and because he went to art school late with

little time to develop due to illness, we can only view his last couple

of pictures and guess what might have been.

''He was my greatest friend,'' said MacTaggart, whose work plus

pictures by Redpath, Gillies, and Peploe from the same period, concludes

the show which runs until July 9.