Scottie Wilson (1889-1972) was a Jewish self-taught artist. Although successful in his lifetime, and accepted as one of the most well-known 20th-century ‘outsider artists’, he often refused to sell to wealthy patrons, instead hanging works in buses or empty shop-fronts, saying of the working-class customers this attracted; ‘They’re the intellect, you know.’ According to Rabbanic Judaism, there exists a ‘tree of souls’ that produces new souls, which fall into the Guf (the Treasury of Souls). An embryo is born when the Angel Gabriel plucks a soul from the treasury. The fish that appear to be falling from the tree in this painting, could be interpreted as a visual depiction of this blossoming and ripening of new souls.


  • Title: The Tree of Life with Fish
  • Creator: Scottie Wilson
  • Date Created: c.1950
  • Provenance: Bequeathed by Mrs Janice Sinson
  • Subject Keywords: Natural Encounters
  • Type: Natural Encounters
  • Rights: All efforts have been made to trace family members and possible copyright-holders. In this instance this has not been possible as the rightsholders are indeterminate. If you have further information please contact art.gallery@leeds.gov.uk.
  • Medium: Watercolour on paper

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