He was born in Dundee and attended the Glasgow School of Art. He was a member of The Royal Scotish Academy and later became Professor of Mural painting at The Glasgow School of Art, he only gave up the position when war broke out in 1939. Ancell's artistic style had many different phases, including surrealism, a religious period, cartoons and latterly abstract painting. Prior to WW11 he was a well respected portrait artist and earned his living this way.
An excellent example of his work entitled - "The Other Wise Man" can be seen in The City of Edinburgh Council's collection (It was painted in 1927) and last year his portrait of Peter Wylie Davidson was bought by the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
Not only was he an extremely talented and versatile painter, he also had a passion for "magic" and during the war he had a very successful stage act, which was known as "Ancell and his 40 Painted Pigeons. He was also well know for keeping a weird and wonderful menagerie of animals at his home, particularly those that could be used on stage - ie. Barberry Doves and White Mice.
On the 11th July 2012 in Christie's sale - "The Contents of The Studio of Albert Morrocco" - Ancell's work entitled "Circe" realised £13,750. It has recently been resold, again by Christie's, for the sum of £32,500. Clearly his work is now being increasingly appreciated and gaining in value.
The Glasgow School of Art now retain a portrait of Ancell and information relating to his life and works are held within their archives
We would like to thank Kerstin Hinkley of Redhill Surrey for providing us with the majority of this biography. Ancell Stronach was her Great Uncle.