John Bellany
The Contralto, 1987, oil on canvas

John Bellany



JOHN BELLANY (RA) (1942–2013)

Scottish artist John Bellany rose to prominence as a result of his pioneering painting style, which brought renewed attention to Scottish painting during the 1960s and went on to influence a new generation of artists. Focusing on Scottish history and symbolism, Bellany’s figurative works combined maritime imagery and Christian iconography with representations of the lives of ordinary working people. The image of the boat runs throughout Bellany’s work, both as a mainstay of Scottish fishing-village life, and as a metaphor for inner voyages. His practice fostered a profound engagement with themes of loss, survival and redemption.

Bellany was born in Port Seton, near Edinburgh, into a family of fishermen and boatbuilders. He studied at Edinburgh College of Art, before gaining a scholarship for travel around Europe, and then going on to attend the Royal College of Art. Bellany's work has been exhibited at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham; Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool; the National Portrait Gallery, London; the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; and the National Gallery of China, Bejing. His paintings are in the collections of major museums and art galleries throughout the world, including the National Gallery of Scotland; the Tate Gallery; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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