Peter Howson

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Peter Howson
Born (1958-03-27) 27 March 1958 (age 63)
London, England
NationalityScottish, British
EducationGlasgow School of Art
Known forPainting
Blind Leading the Blind III (Orange Parade), 1991.
Judas, 2002.

Peter Howson OBE (born 27 March 1958)[1] is a Scottish painter. He was a British official war artist in 1993 during the Bosnian War.

Early life[edit]

Peter Howson was born in London of Scottish parents and moved with his family to Prestwick, Ayrshire, when he was four. He was raised in a religious family and the first ever painting he did was a Crucifixion, when he was 6 years old.[citation needed]


His work has encompassed a number of themes. His early works are typified by very masculine working class men,[2] most famously in The Heroic Dosser (1987). Later, in 1993, he was commissioned by the Imperial War Museum of London, to be the official war artist for the Bosnian War. Here he produced some of his most shocking and controversial work detailing the atrocities which were taking place at the time, like Plum Grove (1994). One painting in particular, Croatian and Muslim, detailing a rape created controversy partly because of its explicit subject matter but also because Howson had painted it from the victims' accounts. He was the official war painter at the Kosovo War for the London Times.[3]

In more recent years his work has exhibited strong religious themes which some say is linked to the treatment of his alcoholism and drug addiction at the Castle Craig Hospital in Peebles in 2000, after which he converted to Christianity.[4] An example of this is Judas (2002) which

" a key work from the series of paintings conveying the artist's decline into and recovery from alcohol and drug addiction and his new found faith in Christianity."

— Art, Website [5]

His work has appeared in other media, with his widest exposure arguably for a British postage stamp he did in 1999 to celebrate engineering achievements for the millennium. In addition his work has been used on album covers by Live (Throwing Copper), The Beautiful South (Quench) and Jackie Leven (Fairytales for Hardmen). His work is exhibited in many major collections.[citation needed]

Howson was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2009 Birthday Honours.[6] In November 2010, BBC Scotland aired a documentary named "The Madness of Peter Howson" which followed the final stages of the completion of a grand commission for show in the renovated St Andrew's Cathedral and also dealt with Howson's struggle with mental illness and Asperger's syndrome.[7][dead link]

In September 2014, Howson suggested he would hand back his OBE, predominantly because of his dislike of British foreign policy but it is not clear if he ever did so.[8]



  • Berkoff, Stephen, Peter Howson, Flowers (2005)
  • Heller, Robert, Peter Howson, Momentum (2003)
  • Jackson, Allan, A Different Man, Mainstream Publishing (1997)
  • Heller, Robert, Peter Howson, Mainstream Publishing (1993)

Exhibition Catalogues

  • Harrowing of Hell, 24 October - 22 November 2008, Flowers East
  • Christos Aneste, 18 March - 7 May 2005, Flowers East
  • Inspired by the Bible, 6–20 August 2004, New College, Edinburgh
  • The Stations of the Cross, 11 April - 18 May 2003, Flowers East
  • The Third Step, 13 April - 4 June 2002, Flowers East
  • The Rake’s Progress, 12 January - 11 February 1996, Flowers East
  • Blind Leading the Blind, 9 November- 8 December 1991, Flowers East


  1. ^ Howson, Peter (27 March 1958), Benezit Dictionary of British Graphic Artists and Illustrators. Oxford University Press. 27 March 1958. ISBN 9780199923052. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  2. ^ Lucie-Smith, Edward; Cohen, Carolyn; Higgins, Judith (1988). The New British Painting (1 ed.). Oxford: Phaidon Press Limited. pp. 52–53, 69.
  3. ^ War artists: Witness in paint, The Economist, 20 May 1999.
  4. ^ "Peter Howson: my 'murderous' rage". The Times. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 15 August 2008.
  5. ^ Judas by Peter Howson, Art, 2003.
  6. ^ "No. 59090". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 June 2009. p. 11.
  7. ^ "The Madness", The Scotsman, 24 November 2010.
  8. ^ Duffy, Judith. "Howson to hand back OBE in protest at Referendum and Airstrikes by allies". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 28 September 2014.

External links[edit]