Emilio Coia

1911 - 1997

Caricaturist. Born in Glasgow, the son of an Italian immigrant who owned an ice-cream parlour, Coia was educated at St. Mungo's Academy and Glasgow School of Art, where he developed a talent for caricature. He eloped to London and worked for Sunday Chronicle, drawing many prominent figures in the arts, literature and the theatre. Facing unemployment in the 1930s, he became advertising manager with an engineering company. After the war, he returned to Scotland taking a similar role with the Saxone Shoe Company in Kilmarnock. Still drawing caricatures in his free time, he began to work for the Evening Times in Glasgow, but soon joined Scotsman, then run by his friend Alistair Dunnett. Coia remained with the Scotsman for almost 50 years and drew many notable personalities involved in the Edinburgh Festival. He also completed a series of caricatures for Scottish Field magazine, was a respected art critic and served as an advisor to Scottish Television.

His caricatures range from simple white-chalk drawings to full-colour paintings. The Scottish National Portrait Gallery hold several of his works, including drawings of George Blake (1893 - 1961), Neil Gunn (1891 - 1973), John Laurie (1897 - 1980), James Maxton (1885 - 1946) and Douglas Young (1913-73).

He served as President of the Glasgow Art Club, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1984), was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Strathclyde (1986) and was created an Honorary Fellow of the Glasgow School of Art (1998).

Coia died in Clydebank, and his funeral was held in Glasgow University Chapel and Maryhill Crematorium. He will be remembered as a kindly caricaturist who was always immaculately dressed.

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