Jack Vettriano was born in Fife, Scotland in 1951. After leaving school at 15, he followed his father down the mine, working as an apprentice engineer. He later moved on to white-collar jobs in management services. Vettriano took up painting as a hobby in the 1970s when a girlfriend bought him a set of watercolours for his birthday and from then on, he spent much of his spare time teaching himself to paint. He learned his craft by copying Old Masters, Impressionists, Surrealists and a plethora of Scottish artists.
Prior to moving from Kirkcaldy to Edinburgh, he decided to mark a break with his past work which hitherto had been sold under his family name Hoggan. From this time on, he adopted his mother’s maiden name. The turning point came in 1988 when he submitted two paintings to the Royal Scottish Academy’s Annual Exhibition; both were sold on the first day and Vettriano was approached by several galleries. He held his first solo exhibition at the Edinburgh Gallery in 1992 entitled ‘Tales of Love and Other Stories’ and later that year, he exhibited at the Mall Galleries in London.
He was represented by Portland Gallery from 1994-2007 and during this time, he had many sell-out solo exhibitions in Edinburgh, London, Hong Kong and New York and counts Jack Nicholson, Sir Alex Fergusson and Sir Tim Rice amongst his collectors.
In 1996, Pavilion books commissioned W. Gordon Smith to compile an anthology, ‘Fallen Angels’, in which over 40 Vettriano images were accompanied by a selection of Scottish writing. Poets, playwrights, novelists and actors were asked for a personal response to an individual painting or poem. In the same year, Sir Terrance Conran commissioned Vettriano to create a series of paintings for Conran’s Bluebird Club in London. The seven paintings inspired by the life of Sir Malcom Campbell hung there for ten years.
In 1998, Vettriano moved to London where he continued to have sell-out shows including, ‘Between Darkness and Dawn’, ‘Lovers and Other Strangers’ and ‘Affairs of the Heart’.
The year 2004 was exceptional in Vettriano’s career; his best-known painting, ‘The Singing Butler’ was sold at Sotheby’s for close to £750,000; he was awarded an OBE for Services to the Visual Arts and was the subject of a Southbank show documentary, entitled ‘Jack Vettriano: The People’s Painter’; Pavilion published a book ‘Lovers and Other Strangers’ being an anthology of his work to date with text by Anthony Quinn.
In 2008, Vettriano was commissioned to paint portraits of Sir Jackie Stewart and Zara Phillips, the latter was part of a charity fundraising project for Sport Relief, the experience of which was captured in a documentary broadcast on BBC One in March 2008.
Vettriano launched Heartbreak publishing and his own gallery also called Heartbreak in 2009. In the same year, he was commissioned by the Yacht Club of Monaco to create a series of paintings to mark the centenary of their world-famous yacht Tuiga. The subsequent exhibition ‘A Hommage a Tuiga’ premiered in Monaco as part of Classic Yacht Week.
In 2010, an exhibition of over 40 new paintings, ‘Days of Wine and Roses’ was opened at the Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery in Fife. The exhibition then moved to London, opening at Heartbreak in September 2010.
In September 2013, a major exhibition, ‘Jack Vettriano: A Retrospective’ opened at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. It featured over 100 works and ran until February 23 2014. It attracted 123,300 visitors and broke the attendance records held by a Van Gogh exhibition in 1948.
Vettriano sold his gallery in London in 2015 and later that year established his own publishing company: Jack Vettriano Publishing. Limited.
In 2017, He was one of three artists commissioned to paint portraits of Scottish comedian Billy Connolly. These were then put on display in Glasgow People’s Palace, while images were transferred to murals in the centre of Glasgow. It was the subject of a BBC documentary first broadcast on June 14, 2017.