WILLIAM HASTIE GEISSLER


William Hastie Geissler (1894 - 1963) was a Scottish artist known for his watercolours of the natural world. He was one of The Edinburgh School, and much of his earlier work came from sketching trips undertaken with other members of this group. Although his natural preference lay with watercolour, often with gouache and pen and ink, several works in oil survive.

After leaving school he was employed as an apprentice draughtsman and engraver with Thomas Nelson, the publishing firm and printer in Edinburgh. At the same time he also attended evening classes at the Edinburgh College of Art (ECA). At the outbreak of war he joined the Royal Scots Regiment and was posted to northern France in 1915, serving in the Battle of the Somme. Later in the war he was seconded to the Royal Engineers, whose need for skilled map draughtsmen was pressing.

William Geissler, ca 1922

After demobilisation from the army in 1919, he attended Edinburgh College of Art as a full-time student. Geissler and William Gillies both graduated from ECA in June 1922. In 1923, Geissler, Gillies and William Crozier, having won scholarships, travelled to Paris to study with André Lhote. On his return from Paris, the formal cubist influence of Lhote in Geissler's work softened and was transformed by his own direct observation of the natural world. He exhibited for several years with colleagues as a member of The 1922 Group, an association of ECA graduates who had been awarded travelling scholarships, and whose annual exhibitions were shown at the New Gallery, Shandwick Place, Edinburgh. Exhibitions included work by Geissler, Gillies, William MacTaggart (the Younger), John Maxwell and Crozier.

Geissler tutored at the College of Art in the 1920s before being appointed as Art Master at Perth Academy in 1928. In 1931 he married Alison McDonald, later known as the glass engraver Alison Geissler MBE. In 1935 he took a post teaching art at Moray House College of Education, becoming Head of the Art Department in 1947 until his retirement in 1962. He was a member of the Society of Scottish Artists (SSA), of which he was President from 1954 to 1957, and of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour (RSW). See also William Geissler

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