Donald Watson was a British wildlife artist and noted ornithologist. Born in Surrey in 1918, Watson showed an early appreciation for drawing birds as a child. After the family relocated to Edinburgh during his childhood, Watson became acquainted with several significant ornithologists who encouraged his young talent. After graduation from St John’s College, Oxford University with a degree in modern history in 1940 Watson served as part of the Royal Artillery in India, where he was stationed throughout World War II. Upon his return to Britain in 1946, he began pursuing his artistic passion in earnest. Watson specialised in painting birds within their natural environment, where his natural artistic talents and keen studies of birds combined to present illustrations which illuminated the species in question as well as the landscape surrounding it with a great level of skill. His first solo exhibition was held in Edinburgh in 1949, followed by several others throughout Scotland and England as well as well received shows in Canada and Luxembourg.
Watson’s precise yet natural illustrations of birds were critically acclaimed. He illustrated over thirty significant academic books in his career, including the Oxford Book of British Birds, and frequently illustrated his own published scientific studies. Watson was a founding member of the Society of Wildlife Artists, and later became President of the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club whilst serving as a county bird recorder for Galloway, a position he held for 30 years, before his death in 2005.