Thankfully, not all British culture is an out of control barking bulldog. Not every theme tune is accompanied by heavy drums and mad guitars either. In fact, much of British culture is fine-tuned, elegant and rather beautiful. From our Royal Ballets to our Shakespeare Company, much of the art Britain has to offer, is to be found on the more established end of the market.
A curious mix of the two is Jack Vettriano. He was born in Fife, Scotland in 1951 and left school at sixteen, with the goal of become a mining engineer. He pursued this career until his 21st birthday, when his life took a coincidental twist.
His then girlfriend gave him a set of watercolours as a gift, encouraging Vettriano to take up painting in his spare time. He was inspired by local art galleries particularly the Kirkaldy Museum and Art Gallery. His early works were reproductions of impressionist pieces such as Monet’s Poppy Fields.
As he honed his skill, the budding artist developed his own individual style. He submitted two of his paintings to the Royal Scottish Academy exhibition in 1989. His talent was immediately recognised and both paintings sold on the first day. Similar success followed with the London Royal Academy exhibition in the summer of 1990. Three pieces were submitted, again, all sold on the first day.
Over the 90’s, he gained more popularity and recognition with each exhibition to which he contributed. He was a sell out all over the world, exhibiting in Hong Kong, Edinburgh, London and New York City. His New York exhibition in 1999 resulted in extraordinary success. The exhibition was held at the Armory for the International 20th century Arts Fair. All of Vettrianos paintings were bought by British collectors on the same night!
Now a renowned artist, Vettriano began to diversify. He wrote books and took private commissions. These included one for MBE Zara Phillips for Sports relief. He was also commissioned for other high profile works including a collection for the Monaco Yacht Club in 2009, named “Hommage a Tuiga” to celebrate the Tuiga Yachts centenary with the club. The collection was first exhibited in September 2009 as part of Classic Yacht Week in Monaco and later toured the UK.
Jack Vettriano is now a respected and established painter. In a relativley short time he has created financial success for himself, in a world he never expected to become a part of. He is a true British underdog, proving that no matter where you come from you, can achieve whatever you want, with will power and determination.
He taught himself to paint, reading and using manuals, to learn how to draw figures. Today Vettrianos’ paintings are not only sought after on canvas, but are the best selling post cards and posters of any British artist. He has become such an integral part of the art world in fact, that in 2013 Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow held an exhibition celebrating the first twenty years of his career.
He has since established his own publishing company and works as an artist still, providing his own unique contribution to the often confusing world of art today.
His most famous work “The Singing Butler” was rejected by the Royal Academy but none the less remains his most popular piece. A simple miner who became one of Britain’s finest artists, Jack Vettriano is an inspiring example of humble beginnings and extraordinary accomplishments.