William Oliphant Hutchison, was born at Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland on 2 July 1889, the fifth child in the family of four sons and two daughters.
As a boy he showed considerable promise as an artist and wished to become a painter but his family were set on him entering business. In 1911, he spent a period in Paris, primarily to perfect his French but he also took the opportunity to study at the Atelier Delecluse, striking up a lifelong friendship with James Gunn. On his return to Scotland he entered the family timber business but soon left and entered Edinburgh College of Art. A portrait of his younger sister Nancy was exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy in 1911.
Hutchison served in the Great War and was severely wounded in France. On demobilisation he and his young family took a studio flat in York Place, Edinburgh where they remained until 1921 when they moved to Mulberry Walk, Chelsea, London and two years later to Ladbroke Road, Holland Park. Hutchison practised as a portrait painter with some measure of success, exhibiting regularly at the Royal Academy. In 1929, Hutchison purchased the old vicarage at ‘Blyth Hill’, Letheringham, near Wickham Market, Suffolk and spent his time either in London or at Letheringham.
In 1933, Hutchinson was elected director of the Glasgow School of Art and moved back to Edinburgh. In 1937 he was elected an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy and became a full academician in 1943. In about 1960 he returned to London, where he had maintained a studio at Cheniston Gardens Studios, Kensington since shortly after the Second World War. He was elected a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in 1948 and became its president in 1965.
Hutchison painted many distinguished people, including the Queen, Prince Philip, and the Queen Mother. His full-length portrait of the Queen in Thistle robes, painted for the Edinburgh Merchant Company in 1956, is probably one of his finest works. His other portraits included Ramsay MacDonald (House of Commons), Dorothy L. Sayers (National Portrait Gallery, London), Sir James Gunn (Royal Scottish Academy), and Sir Sydney A. Smith, for which he received a gold medal in the Paris Salon of 1961. Hutchison continued working up until his death at his home at 30 Oakwood Court, Kensington, London, on 5 February 1970.