Bagdatopoulos, William Spencer (Greek/English, 1884-1965)

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William Spencer Bagdatopoulos (1888-1965) was a prestigious 20th Century painter and commercial artist, famous for his distinctive Orientalist depictions of people and monuments in the East.

Bagdatopoulos was born of the Greek island of Zante, to mixed English-Greek heritage. Soon after Bagdatopoulos’ birth, the family immigrated to Holland where the young artist spent most of his childhood. At the tender age of eleven, Bagdatopoulos entered the Rotterdam Art Academy. Five years later, aged sixteen, the artist travelled to Egypt and Palestine, where he painted extensively before settling to study art for a further year at the Athens Academy.

After studying in Greece, Bagdatopoulos travelled in the Middle East before finally returning to London in 1908. Here he continued to study and soon gained a reputation for his artistic abilities, receiving commissions for portraits, illustrations, murals, and posters for business houses, shipping companies and the railways. In 1909 Bagdatopoulos was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, later winning a medal at the 1913 National Competition of the arts in South Kensington.

On the outbreak of war in 1914, Bagdatopoulos signed up to serve with the British Army. In 1924, Bagdatopoulos was commissioned by the Times of India in Bombay to tour the country on their behalf. From 1924-26 Bagdatopoulos travelled to every part of India, painting images of the famous Indian sites.

Bagdatopoulos moved to California in 1928 where he remained for the rest of his life, predominantly working as a portrait artist.