Leon Kossoff was a British figurative painter known for portraits, life drawings, and cityscapes. Born in 1926 in Islington, London to a family of Russian Jewish descent, he started attending the Hackney Downs School in London in 1938. Shortly after, Kossoff was evacuated with the school to King's Lynn, Norfolk, where he lived with Mr. and Mrs. R.C. Bishop, who encouraged his interest in art. In 1943, after his return to London, he started studying commercial art at Saint Martin's School of Art and pursued drawing classes in the evenings at Toynbee Hall.
Once finished his studies, he served in the Royal Fusiliers in Italy, Holland, Belgium, and Germany. He was heavily influenced by David Bomberg, his teacher at Borough Polytechnic from 1950 to 1952, as well as by one of his colleagues at Saint Martin's, Frank Auerbach. In 1959, he started teaching at Chelsea School of Art and at Saint Martin's. At the same time, he worked in his studio and exhibited work alongside Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, and Keith Critchlow. In 1995, Kossoff exhibited his artworks at the 46th Venice Biennale and from then continued to be awarded solo exhibitions in major museums in the United Kingdom, including Tate and the National Gallery.
He died in July 2019 after complications of a stroke.