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William McCance
(1894 — 1970)

William McCance was a Scottish artist. Born in Cambuslang, Scotland in 1894 McCance began his artistic education at the Glasgow School of Art where he studied painting between the years 1911 to 1915. Upon graduation, McCance remained in the city and began to train as a teacher before being imprisoned as a conscientious objector during the First World War. Following his discharge from prison, McCance relocated to London in 1920 where he was primarily employed as a teacher and an art critic writing for popular cultural publication The Spectator. The paintings McCance produced during the early 1920s mark an important period in Scottish art.


The artist embraced the decidedly abstract and severe machine-age movements sweeping the Continent following the resolution of the First World War, depicting futuristic and Cubist-like imaginings in his paintings. McCance became increasingly associated with the Scottish Renaissance movement, and inspired by the work of his contemporary Wyndham Lewis became progressively influenced by Vorticism. In the years to follow, McCance halted his pursuit of a professional career as a painter. In 1930 he became Controller of the well-respected Gregynog Press in Montgomeryshire, Wales known for its output of limited-edition bound books featuring original typography. Under McCance, Gregynog became known for its focus on wood-engraved illustrations and produced a variety of visually intriguing volumes such as Aesop’s Fables and The Singing Caravan by Robert Vansittart. In 1944 McCance was invited to serve as lecturer in Typography and Book Production at the University of Reading, a position he held until 1960.


In later years, McCance returned to creating artwork. He worked in a wide range of mediums, returning to his previous enjoyment of oils and watercolours alongside new exploration of linocuts, drawings and sculptures. Over 200 works were shown at McCance’s first significant solo exhibition at the Reading Museum and Art Gallery in 1960 upon retirement from his teaching position. McCance died in 1970. His work is represented in the National Galleries of Scotland.