John Bellany

John Bellany CBE, RA (18 June 1942 – 28 Aug. 2013); Scottish painter.

Bellany was born in Port Seton. His father and grandfather were fishermen in Port Seton and Eyemouth near Edinburgh.

During the early 1960s, he studied at Edinburgh College of Art, here he met with other young Scottish artists to begin lifelong friendships and share ideals for a renaissance in Scottish arts. His contemporaries included Alan Bold and Alexander Moffat. Bellany and Moffat studied under Robin Philipson. Their initial interest was in impressionism but with their common Scottish ancestry they looked toward Alan Davie as a connection to a greater but more accessible artistic world.

After his studies at Edinburgh, Bellany achieved a major traveling scholarship and traveled around Europe discovering how the traditions of the great northern European masters could be connected to his own Scottish experience. After this he would marry Helen Percy and move to attend the Royal College of Art in London.

In 1967 he was invited to a trip to East Germany. In Dresden he viewed Otto Dix's War triptych.

In 1968 Bellany graduated and his diploma show was hailed as great success. Many of the paintings from this and the earlier periods are now in public institutions as well as various national galleries. After graduation, Bellany was offered a teaching position at the Edinburgh College of Art but he carried on as a working artist and flit between various teaching jobs at different art colleges.

He was elected to The London Group in 1973.

When in 1974 he separated from his wife his art appears to take on a darker tone. The symbolism increases and it seems as though each picture has a whole narrative of symbols within it, increasingly the pictures become wilder and wilder tending more to expressionism, at this point he suffered a nervous breakdown and returned to Port Seton for recuperation.

...In 2005 he suffered a heart attack. He died in 2013.
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First Collected by

Suzan Hamer


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