Born in Estonia, then part of the Russian Empire, Benno Schotz came to Glasgow in 1912 to study engineering at Glasgow Royal Technical College. He started working as a draughtsman with a Clyde shipping firm while taking evening classes at the Glasgow School of Art. He later became Head of the Sculpture and Ceramic Departments at the school (1938–61). His first solo show in 1926 launched a career that made him Scotland’s leading portrait sculptor. Highly sensitive to the individuality of his subjects, Schotz worked very quickly and preferred his sitters to move and speak to him instead of being silent and still. A life-long Zionist, Schotz also had the opportunity to model busts of Israeli prime ministers David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir. His Jewish heritage was an important aspect in his life. During the Second World War, he helped Jewish artists who had escaped to Glasgow from the continent. In 1942, he and Josef Herman organised an exhibition of Jewish art which included work by modernist artists such as Marc Chagall, Ossip Zadkine and Chaïm Soutine. He followed this up with a bigger Festival of Jewish Arts coinciding with the Festival of Britain in 1951.