Obituary: Harry More Gordon, 87

Harry More Gordon was as dapper as he was talented. Picture: Contributed
Harry More Gordon was as dapper as he was talented. Picture: Contributed
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Harry More Gordon, watercolour artist and teacher at Edinburgh College of Art, has died aged 87.

Harry More Gordon, who was born on October 25, 1928, did not have an easy childhood. His parents divorced when he was six and he was brought up by his grandmother in Angus.

He enjoyed St George’s School, Windsor, where he was a choral scholar, but was not entirely suited to the then emphasis on rugby at Loretto, nor did he much enjoy his spell in the army or National Service.

Harry went to Edinburgh College of Art in 1949 and was immediately at home. His contemporaries were a lively and creative group, including Elizabeth Blackadder, John Houston and Ricky Demarco.

On graduating, he went to London, met Marianne and they married on September 14, 1957. His father-in-law demanded that he had a job and he found one with The Muck Spreader Journal.

From there, Harry progressed to House and Garden and to Vogue, where he became layout editor. In the early 1960s he was appointed head of illustration at Edinburgh College of Art and he taught there until retiring early to allow more time for his developing career as an artist.

Having told Marianne he didn’t mind what part of Edinburgh they would live in as long as it was not Musselburgh, they purchased the Manor House in nearby Inveresk, which was their home until his death.

Designer Robert Dalrymple and artist Hugh Buchanan say they learned from Harry just by watching him paint: “Without pencil and with a watercolour brush he would begin with the pupil of an eye and work out from that, immediately getting a likeness”. Among those who commissioned portraits from him were Lord Harewood, Gian Carlo Menotti, Elizabeth Blackadder, Clarissa Dickson Wright, Alexander Armstrong, Hugh Buchanan and Frederick Ashton.

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery has four of his portraits.

He visited, by invitation, the festivals arranged by Gian Carlo Menotti at Spoleto in Italy and at Charleston in the United States, and there received commissions for portraits.

He had frequent and successful solo exhibitions of portraits and still life paintings in London. It is said that his still life style influenced others. Harry More Gordon had countless friends. He was outgoing and always fun. Well dressed and an excellent dancer, he loved parties and parties loved him.

He remained fit and young looking until he became a victim of Alzheimer’s – of this he was never heard to complain, and he remained calm and cheerful until in his last year when the disease took its final grip.

He is survived by Marianne, by his son Harry, daughters Domenica and Zilla, and grandchildren Jack, Ariadne and Dashka.