Jack Vettriano show breaks Kelvingrove record

A RETROSPECTIVE of Jack Vettriano’s work has broken attendance records at one of Scotland’s leading museums.

Jack Vettriano at the Kelvingrove Museum ahead of the launch of his retrospective, which has broken box office records. Picture: Robert Perry

The exhibition – which has been on display at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow since September – has attracted 123,300 visitors.

The record was previously held by a show devoted to the work of the Glasgow Boys, staged four years ago, and was broken just days ahead of the closure of the exhibition.

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The gallery will be open until 8pm this Friday and Saturday to allow as many visitors as possible to see the show, which features 101 of the Fife-born painter’s works, before it closes this Sunday.

Vettriano, whose work has been largely shunned by Scotland’s arts establishment and repeatedly panned by critics, said he was “deeply touched” to hear that so many people had come to see his work.

The National Galleries of Scotland does not own any of his work and it took until 2011 before officials agreed to display a self-portrait.

The Glasgow Boys show was an unprecedented success for Kelvingrove in 2010, when it broke an attendance record held by a Van Gogh show in 1948, which brought in 103,000 visitors.

However, its popularity has now been dwarfed by that of Vettriano’s show, which featured many of his best-known works, including The Singing Butler, Bluebird at Bonneville and The Billy Boys.

Covering a period of 20 years, from 1992-2012, the exhibition is the first time many of the works have been on public display. Vettriano, 62, who shot to fame when The Singing Butler sold for £750,000 at auction ten years ago, said: “From the very outset, I have been treated with enormous warmth and appreciation by the management and staff of Kelvingrove and I am deeply touched to hear that their enthusiasm has been echoed by so many of the visitors to my exhibition.

“I am also hugely indebted to the collectors of my work, who so generously loaned their paintings for this retrospective. Exhibiting in such majestic surroundings has been a great honour.”

Archie Graham, chair of Glasgow Life, said: “From the beginning, we knew the Jack Vettriano retrospective was going to be popular.

“The response has been nothing short of phenomenal and confirms the public’s affection for the artist and his works.

“We were delighted to have the opportunity to host this exhibition and to bring together the biggest collection of Jack’s works ever seen.”

Born as Jack Hoggan in St Andrews in 1951, Vettriano was brought up in the Fife coastal 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.

After teaching himself by copying artists like Caravaggio and Monet, and taking inspiration from regular visits to Kirkcaldy’s art gallery, he sold his first original pieces in the late 1980s. The artist famously took up painting when his then girlfriend bought him a set of watercolours for his 21st birthday.