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Donald Hamilton Fraser RA (1929-2009)


Donald Hamilton Fraser, RA (1929-2009)

His boldly-handled and richly-coloured semi-abstracts, influenced by the School of Paris, established Donald Hamilton Fraser as one of the most distinctive British Modernist painters of the immediate post-war generation.

Though he was of Scottish descent, Donald Hamilton Fraser was born in London on 30 July 1929, the son of the antiques dealer, Donald Fraser, and his wife, Dorothy (née Lang). During the Second World War, his family moved constantly and, while he spent some time at Maidenhead Grammar School, he often had to change school. Nevertheless, he developed an interest in literature, reading voraciously and writing poetry, and he began to train as a journalist with Kemsley Newspapers.

During a period of national service in the Royal Air Force (1947-49), Fraser became increasingly interested in the visual arts, and studied at St Martin’s School of Art, first in evening classes and, on his release, as a full-time student (1949-52).
His precocious ability to gain external commissions provoked the envy of some of teachers, but soon led to his first solo show at the prestigious London gallery, Gimpel Fils, in 1953. Gaining a French government scholarship to Paris, he lived in the city in the years 1953-54, a brief but formative period that had a significant influence on the development of his work. It was also in Paris, at the British Embassy in 1954, that he married the graphic designer, Judith Wentworth-Sheilds, whom he had met at St Martin’s. (Together they would have one daughter.)

On returning to London in 1954, Fraser supported himself by writing for
Arts Review, while establishing himself as a painter.

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