William in Maturity

Last of a series of stories celebrating our exhibition Great Painters Are Rare; Alison Jones explores William Stott of Oldham’s later career.

My Father and Mother by William Stott of Oldham

Lack of recognition and financial reward was a theme in his life. In an 1891  letter to Oldham Gallery he complained about  how little he made from his paintings, with reference to ‘Jungfrau’ ‘there is a class of picture entirely different which is painted purposely for the average buyer and the painter of these pictures make large fortunes because their work is superficial and done with great rapidity’.

In his opening speech at the sixth Oldham Corporation Art Gallery Spring Exhibition, he bemoaned the lack of reward for artists years of ‘toil and study’. An 1892 article on the hangers of the Liverpool Autumn Exhibition said William Stott ’like Whistler has given play to his individuality , and evolved a preconceived way of looking at nature, to which he has remained true in spite of ridicule, raillery and neglect.’

Nevertheless In 1896 The Sketch, reviewing his exhibition at the Goupil Gallery felt able to state: ‘Mr William Stott of Oldham is so well known , appreciated and admired for the admirable work at the Academy, the Salon, and elsewhere—.’

William Sickert in “The Speaker” of the 21.12.1896, reviewing ‘Portrait of Father and Mother’, said’ He is a great painter and great painters are rare’

The years from now until William’s death were busy and productive but his health was in decline.

On the 25.2.1900 William Stott died from heart disease on board the SS Sanda a passenger steamer in the Irish Sea.

The Whitehaven News reported that his body was taken to Belfast and then  returned to Ravenglass on Wednesday and interred that afternoon and that the death was announced by telegram to his wife in Ravenglass on Monday morning.

Christina died in 1902 whilst visiting William’s exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery. She is buried next to William.

By Alison Jones, Research Volunteer.