Born in Edinburgh, William Baillie was a painter of flowers, landscape and still-life. He studied at the Edinburgh College of Art 1941-50 where he was an Andrew Grant Scholar. His studies were interrupted by war service spent in the Royal Corps of Signals, mainly in the Far East 1942-47.
William Baillie was elected RSW 1963 (President 1974), RSA 1979 (President 1990-98). He is represented in many public collections including Aberdeen Art Gallery, Glasgow Art Gallery, Kirkcaldy Art Gallery, City of Edinburgh Collection and the Royal Scottish Academy.
A tutor at the Edinburgh College of Art, William Baillie devoted much time to the welfare and advancement of other artists and became an important contributor to the 20th Century Scottish art movement. The following was taken from his obituary in The Scotsman: His work was quite minimal, often lyrical and abstract, against the fashion of the times, which might account for the public's inertia in accepting it immediately.