|Born||25 October 1835|
|Died||2 April 1910(aged 74)|
|Education||Edinburgh College of Art|
Life and work
He moved to Edinburgh at the age of 16 and studied at the Trustees' Academy under Robert Scott Lauder. He won several prizes as a student and exhibited his work in the Royal Scottish Academy, becoming a full member of the Academy in 1870. His early works were mainly figure paintings, often of children, but he later turned to land and marine art specifically seascape painting, inspired by his childhood love of the sea and the rugged, Atlantic-lashed west coast of his birth.
McTaggart was fascinated with nature and man’s relationship with it, and he strove to capture aspects such as the transient effects of light on water. He adopted the Impressionist practice of painting out of doors, and his use of colour and bold brushwork resemble qualities found in paintings by Constable and Turner, both artists whom he admired.
McTaggart was skilled in the use of both oil and watercolour and, in addition to Kintyre seascapes, he also painted landscapes and seascapes in Midlothian and East Lothian. Many of his later works depict the Moorfoot Hills which could be seen from his house near Lasswade, which he moved to in 1889.
He is regarded as one of the great interpreters of the Scottish landscape and is often labelled the "Scottish Impressionist".
He married Marjory Henderson (1856-1936), the daughter of another painter, Joseph Henderson (artist) RSW (1832–1908), Joseph's sons John Henderson (1860–1924) and Joseph Morris Henderson (1863–1936) also being painters. McTaggart painted a striking portrait of his father-in-law, Joseph Henderson, which hangs in the Glasgow Museum.
One of his pupils was the Scottish marine painter James Campbell Noble.
He is buried in Newington Cemetery in Edinburgh just south of the main roundel on a corner between paths. He lies with both his first and second wives: Mary Holmes (d. 1884, aged 47), Marjory Henderson (d. 1936, aged 80). Three of his children died in infancy and are buried with him. His daughter, Annie Mary (1864–1949), who married the art historian Sir James Caw, lies alongside.
His paper are held by the Bonnyrigg and Lasswade Local History Society.
Amongst McTaggart's better known works are:
- Spring, 1864
- Off to the Fishing, 1871
- Through Wind and Rain, 1875
- The Bait Gatherers, 1879
- The Storm, 1890
- Lobster Fishers Machrihanish Bay, 1909
- Fisher Boy, 1862
- John Kelly Stuart, 1879
- "FAMILY ARCHIVE OF WILLIAM McTAGGART RSA (1835–1910)". 26 January 2004. Retrieved 15 August 2013.