1942 - 2013
John Bellany is regarded as the most influential Scottish painter of the last century, and is widely admired and collected by the likes of David Bowie and Damien Hirst. Bellany was born in 1942 into a family of Calvinist fishermen and boat builders, he had a strong sense of the fundamental opposites: right and wrong, good and evil, life and death which meant that his need to root his imagery in his own experience ensured that he never became an abstract painter. John Bellany was a Romantic, an Expressionist and a Symbolist, who found inspiration among such greats as Rembrandt, Munch, and Kokoschka.
From 1960 to 1965 he attended Edinburgh College of Art, where he studied Drawing and Painting with Sir Robin Phillipson. Bellany continued his studies with Carel Weight and Peter de Francia at the Royal Academy of Art. Following graduation from the Royal College of Art in 1968, Bellany taught at Brighton College of Art and then Winchester College of Art. His major show was at the National Portrait Gallery in London in 1986. The first solo exhibition ever held at the National Portrait Gallery, it centred around Bellany’s portrait of the English cricketer Sir Ian Botham, a work the gallery commissioned in 1985.But, it is at this time also that Bellany started to suffer from liver failure to to his heavy drinking, Having undergone a successful liver transplant at Addenbrook's Hospital in Cambridge in 1988, he formed a close friendship with Sir Roy Calne, the surgeon in charge of the operation. He moved to Little Eversden just South of Cambridge, where he recovered from his operation and continued to paint.He painted his neighbour Sarah and two of these were gifted to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge: Portrait of Sarah and Portrait of Sarah with Aga, painted in 1990. Bellany also gifted a number of paintings to friends during this period.
Bellany was elected a Fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, in 1988, a Royal Academician in 1991, and awarded a CBE in 1994. His work has been the subject of numerous articles and documentaries and can be seen in public collections in Britain and the USA. John Bellany lived and worked in Barga, Tuscany for periods towards the end of his life and died in 2013.