William Niven (1890-1947)
William Niven was born on the 26th August 1890 in Greenock. He was the son of Archibald Fraser Niven (1861-1918), who was clerk to the old Greenock School Board. He was the eldest child in the family, having two younger brothers and a sister. He seems to have started out as a clerk, studying art at evening classes at the Glasgow School of Art. In the session for 1915-1916 he won the Messrs. Winsor and Newton Ltd. Day School Student Prize for Painting award, as well as gaining the first prize in anatomy. During this time he seems to have lived at Fox Street, Greenock and at Espedair Street, Paisley. On his return to the Art School in 1919 he attended as a full time day student and by 1920 he was producing artwork for newspapers. In the same year he was employed by George Outram & Co. Ltd. of Glasgow to produce work for ‘The Bulletin and Scots Pictorial’, a Glasgow based newspaper which ran from 1913 until 1960. Over the next twenty years he was to contribute a daily cartoon to the paper.
He also produced impressive cover illustrations for the Glasgow Herald’s Annual Trade Review. During the middle 1930s he also produced a series of cartoons for the Scottish Field magazine in a series called ‘Potted Scots’, which focused on famous Scottish figures of the day, working under the name ‘Scoticus’. During the 1920s and 1930s he travelled throughout southern Europe on holiday producing a series of etchings devoted to Italian, French and Spanish scenes on his return. He also produced an important set of etchings of local scenes during the inter war period. Unfortunately by 1940 William Niven was suffering from ill health and he was forced to retire, remaining at Fox Street, Greenock until his death on the 14 January 1947.
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Page last updated: 8 January 2018