The Artist Jack Vettriano
Jack’s Life Journey
Jack Vettriano was born Jack Hoggan in Fife, Scotland, in 1951. He grew up in extreme poverty, living in a spartan miner’s cottage and sharing a bed with his brother. He left school at sixteen to become an apprentice mining engineer in the Scottish coal fields. On his twenty-first birthday he was given a set of watercolour paints and from then on he spent much of his spare time teaching himself to paint. His first painting was a copy of Monet’s Poppy Fields. His breakthrough came in 1989 when two of his paintings were exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy’s annual show and sold on the first day. The following year three of his paintings were exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in London to an equally rapturous reception. By then he had given up his job in order to paint full time, and demand for his work has since grown rapidly, with sell-out exhibitions in Edinburgh, London, Hong Kong and New York.
Vettriano’s paintings are reminiscent of film noir and often feature romantic or erotic themes. In 2004 his best-known painting The Singing Butler sold at auction for just under £750,000. In the same year he was awarded the OBE and was the subject of a television documentary, Jack Vettriano: The People’s Painter, on ITV’s South Bank Show.
He was made a Doctor of Letters by the University of St Andrews in 2003 and the following year he set up a scholarship at the university, which is awarded every four years. He has donated several works of art to be sold in aid of charities and has set up the Vettriano Trust to help struggling artists achieve their potential.
A major retrospective of Vettriano’s work was held at the Kelvingrove Gallery, Glasgow in 2013 and more recently there was an exhibition featuring his early work, held at Kirkcaldy Galleries, in the autumn of 2022.