His mother was Margaret, daughter of James Chalmers of Westburn; both parents were of long-established Aberdeen families and, despite spending most of his career in London, William Dyce remained closely involved with the town of his birth.
He played a significant part in the formation of public art education in the United Kingdom, as perhaps the true parent of the South Kensington Schools system. Dyce was associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and played a part in their early popularity.
Dyce was a Streatham resident and died in Streatham on 14 February 1864. He is buried in the churchyard of St Leonards Church in Streatham. He is also memorialised on his parent's grave in St Nicholas Churchyard on Union Street in Aberdeen and there is a street in Streatham named for him – William Dyce Mews in addition to the Dyce fountain on Streatham Green.
Portrait by John Watkins © National Portrait Gallery, London under the Creative Commons License and Paintings by William Dyce Francesca da Rimini and Virgin and Child