Jack Vettriano

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Success Story

Jack Vettriano is the most popular and successful Scottish artist in history. His piece ’The Singing Butler’ which sold at Sotherbys for £744,500, was named as one of the most popular works of art of all time.

Along with astonishing sales of his work, he has been awarded an OBE. He holds an honorary degree from the University of St Andrew’s and his work can be found in the private collections of Jack Nicholson. Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Tim Rice and Robbie Coltrane.

Younger years

Vettriano’s is a true rags to riches story. Growing up in poverty in an industrial seaside town in Fife. His father sent him out delivery papers and milk, cleaning windows and picking potatoes from the age of 10. At 16 he left school and became an apprentice mining engineer.

Things started to change on his 21st birthday. When a girlfriend bought him a set of watercolours as a present. He then began painting as a hobby. His earliest paintings, under his birth name “Jack Hoggan”, were pastiches of impressionist paintings. These were by the likes of Caravaggio. Degas. Monet. Van Gogh. Dali and Singer Sargent, which copied from books he borrowed from Kirkcaldy library.

He applied to study Fine Art at the University of Edinburgh, but his portfolio was rejected. Then in 1989 Jack submitted two canvases to the Royal Scottish Academy annual show. Both sold on the first day and he was approached by several galleries who wanted to sell his other work. By now he had started using his mother’s maiden name, Vettriano.

The following year, an equally enthusiastic reaction greeted the three paintings. He entered these for the prestigious Summer Exhibition at London’s Royal Academy. With further exhibitions in Edinburgh, London, Hong Kong and Johannesburg. His new life as an artist began in earnest.

Commissions and exhibitions

In 1996, Sir Terence Conran commissioned Vettriano to create a series of paintings for his new Bluebird Gastrodome in London. The seven paintings, inspired by the life of Sir Malcolm Campbell, hung there for ten years. Before going on to be auctioned at Sotheby’s in 2007 for more than £1,000,000.

In November 1999, Vettriano’s work was shown for the first time in New York. When 21 paintings were displayed at The International 20th Century Arts Fair at The Armory. More than 40 collectors from the UK flew out for the event. All paintings were sold on the opening night.

Vettriano’s most famous work, ‘The Singing Butler’, was rejected by the Royal Scottish Academy for its summer exhibition. But went on to be sold privately in 1991 for £3000. In 2004, it sold at auction for £744,800. By that time it had already sold over a million posters and according to the Guardian, still brings in royalties of half a million pounds a year.

2010 saw Vettriano be awarded Great Scot of the Year. His new collection ‘Days Of Wine And Roses’ was opened at the Kirkcaldy Museum by Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond. A year later his self-portrait ‘The Weight’ was displayed at the re-opened Scottish National Portrait Gallery.


Menswear brand, Stefano Ricci, launched its Spring Summer 2012 collection with a campaign inspired by the work of Jack Vettriano. And in the same year ‘The Singing Butler’ went on display at the Aberdeen Art Gallery as part of an exhibition entitled. ‘From Van Gogh to Vettriano’.

A major retrospective of Vettriano’s work ‘Jack Vettriano. A Retrospective’ featuring over 100 works, ran at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum from September 2013 until 23 February 2014.

His work is loved around the globe and with his classically intimate and chic depictions appealing to art collectors both old and new.


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