Art chiefs' e-mails paint poor picture of Vettriano

SCOTLAND’S art bosses dismissed top-selling artist Jack Vettriano as "an indifferent painter very low down our list of priorities", it has been revealed.

Internal e-mails and memos released under the Freedom of Information Act show how senior figures at the National Galleries of Scotland discussed how they would justify failing to buy the Fife-based artist’ work.

Mr Vettriano has accused the arts establishment of snobbery in ignoring his works, which include The Singing Butler, Scotland’s most expensive painting, sold for 744,800 at auction last year.

In one e-mail, Richard Calvocoressi, director of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, said: "I’d be more than happy to say that we think him an indifferent painter and that he is very low down our list of priorities (whether or not we can afford his work, which at the moment we obviously can’t). His ‘popularity’ rests on cheap commercial reproductions of his paintings."

But in a memo last year, James Holloway, director of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, asked Sir Timothy Clifford, general director of the National Galleries, to approve acceptance of the loan of a Vettriano self-portrait, which he described as "not at all bad".

But at a management group meeting a few days later the plan was turned down by Sir Timothy.

Mr Calvocoressi today claimed the documents showed minds were not closed against Mr Vettriano. "There is no hidden agenda, we do look at paintings on merit," he said.