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John Bellany


1942 -

Painter. Born in Port Seton (East Lothian), Bellany spent much time with his grandparents in Eyemouth (Scottish Borders). He trained at the Edinburgh College of Art (1960-5) and the Royal College of Art, London (1965-8). He went on to teach at Croydon College of Art, Brighton College of Art, Winchester College of Art (1969-73), the Royal College of Art and at Goldsmiths College (1978-84).

Bellany is noted for his intense, highly coloured works, filled with symbolism. These include The Obsession (1966) and Time and the Raven (1982), which inspired a piece by composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davies (1934 - 2016). Bellany's portrait of Maxwell Davies hangs in the National Portrait Gallery (London) and another portrait of actor Sir Sean Connery (b.1930) can be seen in the National Gallery for Scotland. Bellany produced several disturbing works following a visit to the former Nazi Concentration camp at Buchenwald in 1967.

Bellany's work has been the subject of numerous awards and major international exhibitions, including in Boston, Dublin, New York and Warsaw. He was given the honour of the first one-man show ever to be held at the National Portrait Gallery in London (1986). He was elected a member of the Royal Academy in 1991. In Scotland, his work can be seen at the municipal galleries in Aberdeen, Ayr, Dundee, Glasgow and Kirkcaldy, together with Scottish National Portrait Gallery (Edinburgh), Hunterian Gallery (Glasgow). He was elected an Honorary Member of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1986.

He was awarded a CBE (1994) and holds honorary degrees from the Universities of Edinburgh (1996) and Heriot-Watt (1998).

Drinking heavily he suffered liver failure and was only saved by a liver transplant. Today Bellany has homes in Cambridge, Edinburgh and Barga (Italy).


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