A painter in both oil and watercolour, William Thomas Wood became particularly well known for atmospheric landscapes of Sussex, as well as flower still lifes. During the First World War, he served on the Balkan Front, both in the Royal Flying Corps and as an Official War Artist. He returned to images of aerial warfare in the Second World War, during which he served in the Home Guard. William Thomas Wood was born in Ipswich, Suffolk, the son of the builder, Thomas Wood, and his wife, Middlesex-born, Annie (née Tighe). In Who Was Who, he listed his birth date as 17 June 1877; however, his birth was registered in the third quarter of 1878.
By 1891, the Wood family was living at Nos 1, 2 and 3 Green Man Cottages, Heath Lane, Putney, and Thomas was running his building and decorating business from the premises. William was the eldest of five siblings, with three brothers and a sister.
Wood studied at the Regent Street Polytechnic School of Art, in London, and then in Italy.
He began to exhibit frequently at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1900, while still living with his family in Putney. After staying in various lodgings in London, he settled at The Studio, 29a Oxford Road, Putney, by 1904.
In 1909, he married Berenice Knowles, the daughter of the artist, Davidson Knowles. Ten years younger than William, she attended the Regent Street Polytechnic, possibly as his student, as he returned to the school as a teacher of painting. She would become a glass painter and decorator in cut paper, specialising in floral decorations under glass domes. By 1911, they were living together with their seven month daughter, Elise, at 35 Oakhill Court, Oakhill Road, Putney. Later that year, Berenice would give birth to their son, William.
In 1910, Wood held a solo show, ‘Pictures illustrating Evening, Night and the Dawn’, at the Fine Art Society. Working in both oil and watercolour, he became an associate of the Royal Society of Painters in Water-Colours in 1913.
During the First World War, Wood served as a corporal in the Royal Flying Corps; working as an Observer of Kite Balloons in Macedonia, he was mentioned in despatches. In 1918, he became an Official War Artist on the Balkan Front, undertaking several commissions for the Ministry of Information. In the same year, the Leicester Galleries mounted a solo show of the resulting work. Then, he illustrated A J Mann’s The Salonika Front, published by A & C Black, in 1920.
By the end of the First World War, Wood was living at 61 Glebe Place, Chelsea, which would remain his home for the rest of his life. In 1918, he was elected a full member of the Royal Society of Painters in Water-Colours, and between 1923 and 1926 served as Vice President. He also became a member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters in 1927 and the National Society of Painters, Sculptors and Printmakers (which was founded in 1930). His solo shows included two devoted to oil paintings of flowers at the Leicester Galleries, in 1924 and 1927, and another, of ‘English Landscape in Water Colour’ at the Rembrandt Gallery, in 1936. In addition to leading London venues, he exhibited in the provinces and at the Paris Salon.
During the Second World War, Wood was a member of the Home Guard. In later years, he was involved with a number of artists’ clubs, becoming Chairman of the Association of Students Sketch Clubs in 1924, and also a member of both the Arts Club and Chelsea Arts Club, and an honorary member of the Chelsea Art Society. He died in Chelsea on 2 June 1958.
His work is represented in numerous public collections, including the Imperial War Museums.