William Strang (1859-1921)
b Dumbarton, 13 Feb 1859; d Bournemouth, 12 April 1921. Scottish painter and printmaker. Following a brief apprenticeship with a shipbuilding firm in Clydesdale, he entered the Slade School of Art (1876) where he adhered to the uncompromising realism advocated by his teacher Alphonse Legros. After completing his studies at the Slade (1880), Strang became Legros’s assistant in the printmaking class for a year. For the next 20 years he worked primarily as an etcher. His etchings include landscapes in the tradition of Rembrandt, pastoral themes indebted to Giorgione and macabre genre subjects, marked by a sense of tension and suspended animation. He also etched 150 portraits of leading artistic and literary figures. The commitment to realism and psychological intensity that characterizes the best of Strang’s etched work is also evident in the paintings that dominated the latter half of his career. The influence of the Belgian and French Symbolists’ work and Strang’s growing confidence in the handling of colour combined in his mature style with a linear clarity and schematic colouring that is best seen in such works as Bank Holiday (1912; London, Tate). His oil portraits, for example Vita Sackville-West as Lady In a Red Hat (1918; Glasgow, A.G. & Mus.), are strikingly potent images of their time. An important collection of Strang’s graphic work is in the Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow. His sons Ian Strang (1886–1952) and David Strang (b 1887) were also printmakers.