born 1951, Fife, Scotland
Born in Scotland in 1951, Vettriano left school at sixteen to become a mining engineer in the local coalfields. 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. The local art gallery, The Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery, with its renowned collection of 19th and 20th century Scottish paintings, was particularly inspirational.
It was fourteen years before Vettriano felt ready to show any of his work in public. In 1989 he offered two works 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 the three paintings, which he entered for the prestigious Summer Exhibition at London’s Royal Academy.
In the last nine years interest in, and desire for his work, has grown rapidly. There have been sell-out solo exhibitions in Edinburgh, London, Hong Kong and Johannesburg. In November 1999, Vettriano’s work was shown for the first time in New York, when twenty paintings were displayed at The International 20th Century Arts Fair at The Armory. Fifty collectors from the UK flew out for the opening night of the Fair and all twenty paintings were sold out within an hour of the opening.
Aside from his exhibitions, Vettriano has acquired a vast following of fans through the posters and prints of his paintings that are distributed worldwide. This year the two best selling art posters in Britain are both Vettriano images. To date, more than 500,000 posters of Vettriano’s paintings have sold worldwide.