Born in Scotland in 1953 of Italian parents, Jack Vettriano
began his career as a mining engineer in the Scottish coalfields, painting only in his spare time. In 1988, Vettriano gave up his job as a mining engineer in order to paint full-time. He left school at 16 and became an apprentice mining engineer, but later took up painting as a hobby in his twenties. His earliest paintings were copies or pastiches of impressionist paintings (his first painting was a copy of Monet's Poppy Fields).
Vettriano's breakthrough year was 1988, when he felt ready to display his paintings in public and submitted two canvases for the Royal Scottish Academy annual show. Both paintings sold on the first day and Vettriano was approached by several galleries who wanted to sell his other work. The success and attention contributed to the breakdown of his first marriage and he moved to Edinburgh, changing his name to Vettriano, his mother's maiden name. Further successful exhibitions followed in Edinburgh, London, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, and New York. His paintings are reminiscent of the film noir genre, often with romantic or even pornographic themes. He uses himself and a model for all his paintings. Although his work is generally dismissed by art critics as being vulgar and devoid of imagination, he is one of the most
commercially successful living artists. His original paintings now regularly fetch six figure prices, but he is thought to make more money from the sale of reproductions. Each year a new set of limited edition prints are published, and his most popular work, the Singing Butler, sells more posters and postcards than any other painting in the UK. On 21 April 2004 the original canvas of the Singing Butler sold at auction for £744,500 — in stark contrast to 1992 when Vettriano painted the picture and submitted it for inclusion in the Royal Academy summer show, only to be rejected.
Vettriano has studios in Scotland and London. He is represented by the Portland Gallery, London and includes Jack Nicholson and Terrence Conran amongst his collectors. In 2003 he was awarded the OBE. Vettriano's paintings hint at stories of seduction and betrayal in a style that has been compared to some of the great realist painters of America and England. His work has been likened to that of Walter Sickert, Edward Hopper and the photographer Brassai, and to some show influences from Scotland's distinctive Colourist tradition.
Jack Vettriano has reached a level of commercial success in recent years that any artist would envy. This Scottish born painter has become somewhat of a celebrity in England as he continues to have wildly popular exhibitions. Vettriano has had sell-out exhibitions in Edinburgh, London, Hong Kong, Johannesburg and New York. Vettriano, a former mining engineer, works in a film noir style and somewhat sexual overtones can be found in many of his works. He is portrayed in many of his works as the "male predator". Jack Vettriano is exclusively represented by the Portland Gallery in London, England.
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