Born in Fife, Scotland in 1951, Jack Vettriano left school at sixteen to become a mining engineer. For his twenty-first birthday, a girlfriend gave him a set of watercolour paints and, from then on, he spent much of his spare time teaching himself to paint. In 1989, he submitted two paintings to the Royal Scottish Academy’s annual exhibition; both were accepted and sold on the first day. The following year, an equally enthusiastic reaction greeted three paintings he entered for the prestigious Summer Exhibition at London’s Royal Academy, and thus began his new life as an artist. In the mid-1990s, Vettriano began to focus on the more erotic, film noir style scenes that have come to define his oeuvre. Regardless of subject-matter, the prevailing theme of Vettriano’s work is the ambiguous sense of narrative that is left open to the viewer’s interpretation.
Vettriano has cultivated a global following since the turn of the century, with critically-acclaimed, sell-out solo exhibitions in Edinburgh, London, Hong Kong and New York. In 2004, a year that proved seminal for Vettriano’s career, The Singing Butler sold at Sotheby’s for close to £750,000, an auction record for his work that still stands today; meanwhile, he was awarded an OBE for Services to the Visual Arts and was the subject of a South Bank Show documentary, entitled ‘Jack Vettriano: The People’s Painter‘.