Peter Howson OBE (born 1958) is a Scottish painter who, in our opinion, is the brightest star in post-war British figurative painting.
He was born in London and moved with his family to Prestwick, Ayrshire, aged four. He studied at the Glasgow School of Art in 1979, alongside contemporaries such as Adrian Wiszniewski, Steven Campbell and Ken Currie.
The so-called Glasgow Boys exploded on the art world, doing much to restate the importance of figurative painting in an art world obsessed by the abstract and the conceptual.
His work has encompassed a number of themes. His early works are typified by very masculine working class men, most famously in The Heroic Dosser (1987). Later he was the official war artist for the Bosnian civil war in 1993. Here he produced some of his most shocking and controversial work detailing the atrocities which were taking place at the time.
One painting in particular “Croatian and Muslim”, detailing a rape created controversy partly because of its explicit subject matter but also because Howson had painted it from the accounts of its victims rather than witnessing it firsthand. The painting was later purchased by David Bowie.
His work has appeared in other media, with his widest exposure arguably for a British postage stamp he did in 1998 to celebrate engineering achievements for the millennium, which allegedly infuriated The Queen as her head seemed to be appearing out of a chimney. In addition his work has been used on album covers by Live (Throwing Copper), The Beautiful South (Quench) and Jackie Leven (Fairytales for Hardmen).
His work is exhibited in many major public collections in the UK, Europe and the USA and is in the private collection of celebrities such as Bowie, Mick Jagger and Madonna who inspired a number of paintings in 2002.
Howson was appointed OBE in the 2009 Birthday Honours.