Artist: William Hanna Clarke

Date of Birth:
Date of Death:
Place of Death:
Residence in Dumfries & Galloway:

Settled in Kirkcudbright 1916. Lived at 9 High Street. Exhibited at Royal Scottish Academy from High Street, 1916, 1917, Neptune Park 1918-1923, 6 Victoria Park 1924.  Tragically killed during construction of new house, Skairkilndale.


A qualified dentist, attended evening classes at Glasgow School of Art.

Exhibited At:

Royal Scottish Academy; RSW; Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts; Liverpool


Studio, 1922. Scottish Watercolours 1740-1940, Julian Halsby, Batsford. Kirkcudbright: one hundred years of an artists’ colony, Patrick Bourne, Atelier Books, Edinburgh, 2000.  Tales of the Kirkcudbright Artists, Haig Gordon, Kirkcudbright, 2006.


Image of artist, Stewartry Museum


Landscape and figure painter, who moved from London to Milngavie before settling in Kirkcudbright.  Almost all his works were country scenes, especially of Kirkcudbright and Stirlingshire at the brighter times of year.  Buried in churchyard with very fine tombstone, carved by his friend, the Glasgow sculptor, Alexander Proudfoot, Royal Scottish Academy.  Stewartry Museum has a collection of his sketches. "Having an idyllic sense of colour,sunlight and the pastoral life surrounding farm steadings and the intimate woodlands captivate him most" – quotation from Studio, 1922.  His watercolour The Tolbooth, Kirkcudbright, Glasgow Art Gallery, is illustrated in Halsby, Scottish watercolours 1740-1940, p227.


Born in Glasgow, Clarke began his working career there as a dentist, but in 1913 he had the opportunity to give that up and follow his vocation as an artist.  In 1909/10 he attended night classes at the Glasgow School of Art, where he became a friend of Alexander Proudfoot, the sculptor.  Kirkcubright was already renowned as an artistic centre, so it was understandable that Clarke chose to move here with his family.  He was well received and his talent was admired by E A Taylor, Jessie M King’s husband, and an influential art critic at this time.

He painted oils and watercolours chiefly of local landscapes around Kirkcudbright, and his work shows the influence of the earlier Glasgow Boys – in particular the work of Hornel, Henry and Guthrie, all of whom had significant Kirkcudbright connections.  Sadkly he died as a result of a tragic accident just as his work was becoming better known and admired.  At the time he was building the house and studio known as ‘Skairkilndale”” in Barrhill Road, Kirkcudbright.  This was designed by the Paisley architect William MacLellan.  His gravestone in Kirkcudbright Cemetery was carved by his friend Alexander Proudfoot.

His widow Mrs Betty Clarke was a music teacher and for many years was closely involved with the Kirkcudbright Choral Society.  Her daughter Margaret, nicknamed ‘Girlie’ Clarke will be remembered by older residents.