JACK Vettriano’s iconic painting The Singing Butler will be going on display as part of the biggest ever retrospective of his career in Glasgow, it was confirmed today.
Officials at Kelvingrove have revealed the Fife-born artist’s most famous work - bought by a private collector for £750,000 in 2004 - will be going on show from next month at the attraction.
Painted in 1992, it originally sold for just £1800 and has not been part of a Vettriano show since then, although its owner is understood to live in Scotland. When it was sold by Sotheby’s - which had set an asking price of just £200,000 - it dwarfed the previous price achieved by a Vettriano work, of £98,000.
The Singing Butler will join other classic Vettriano works such as Dance Me To The End Of Love (1998), Mad Dogs (1992), Bluebird at Bonneville (1996) and The Billy Boys (1994) in the exhibition.
It is expected to be one of the gallery’s most popular shows for years thanks to Vettriano’s popularity and the breadth of work due to go on display. Some of the paintings will never have been shown publicly before while others are going on show in the UK for the first time.
Kelvingrove - which has been planning the exhibition with the artist for three years - says it will include “rarely-seen early works, erotically charged night-time interiors, painterly self-portraits and special commissions including paintings created for the Bluebird Club celebrating Sir Malcolm Campbell’s land-speed records and others created to mark the centenary of the Yacht Club of Monaco’s world-famous vessel, Tuiga.”
Born Jack Hoggan in St Andrews, Vettriano, who taught himself to paint, was brought up in the Fife seaside town of Methil. He left school at 16 to become an apprentice mining engineer and also had a spell as a bingo caller before taking up painting when a then-girlfriend bought him a set of watercolours for his 21st birthday.
He sold his first original works in the late 1980s. In 1989, he submitted two paintings to the Royal Scottish Academy’s annual exhibition; both were accepted and sold on the first day.
Sir Jackie Stewart and Zara Phillips are among those he has been commissioned to paint, and Sir Alex Ferguson and Robbie Coltrane are among his collectors.
Councillor Archie Graham, chair of Glasgow Life, which runs the city’s museums and galleries, said: “With less than a month to go until the opening of the Jack Vettriano retrospective, excitement is building for this once in a lifetime showcase of Scotland’s most popular living artist.
“Some of the works are known all over the world and others are being displayed to the public for the first time but all of them provide a
fascinating and revealing insight into the career of Jack Vettriano.
“Being chosen as the only stage for this retrospective is a terrific honour for Glasgow and will allow people to see the works of Jack Vettriano for themselves and discover the other treasures of Kelvingrove.”
There was no confirmation that the The Singing Butler would be in the exhibition when it was announced in June, with negotiations with its owners understood to be ongoing at the time.
At the time the artist said: “It will not be without some considerable emotion that I will also be reunited with some of my own paintings; works that span 20 years of my career and many of which I have not seen in years.
“I’ve been very lucky that my works have found their way into a diverse range of private collections around the world over the years and I’m most grateful to the owners for so kindly loaning their paintings back for this special exhibition.”
• Jack Vettriano: A Retrospective is at Kelvingrove from 21 September to 23 February.