Donald Hamilton Fraser


Donald Hamilton Fraser, who passed away in September 2009, was one of the great twentieth century British painters. He studied at St Martin's School of Art from 1949 to 1952 alongside Frank Auerbach, Joe Tilson, Sheila Fell and Leon Kossoff. In 1958 Carel Weight took him on as a tutor in the painting school at the Royal College of Art where he remained for the next 25 years teaching alongside Peter Blake and Julian Trevelyan. His pupils there included David Hockney, Patrick Caulfield, Therese Oulton and Ron Kitaj.

Hamilton Fraser was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Art in 1970 and an Honorary Fellow in 1984. He was Honorary Curator at the Royal Academy from 1992 to 1999, a Trustee there from 1994 to 2000 and a member of the Royal Fine Art Commission from 1986 to 2000. During his lifetime he exhibited his highly acclaimed work in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Zurich and many other cities around the world. He participated in many of the most significant exhibitions of British work including the Royal Academy's 25 Years of British Painting. His predominant subject matter was landscape. Here he combined his Scottish decent and his affinity with French painting from his studies there in the 1950's. This is greatly reflected in his style and execution.

In his work he layered thick bright paint with a palette knife to produce an almost collage effect. The landscapes remain close to their origins whilst forming abstract almost dream-like fields of colour. Contrasting in style and highlighting Donald's diversity are his wonderful chalk and wash drawings of dancers. Each one captures individual character and emotion whilst revealing his intimate knowledge of dance.