John Bellany

My Father (1966)

About this artwork

In this portrait,Bellany has paid close attention to the weather-beaten quality of his father's head and hands. These tell most about the character of the sitter and his life. The tattoo on his left arm says 'True love Nancy'. His wife Nancy (the artist's mother) was extremely important to him, to the extent that he gave up being a fisherman in 1951, to alleviate her anxiety, when he was at sea. The sitter rests against what appears to be one of the artist's own paintings, showing fishermen, a reference to the sitter's profession.

John Bellany

John Bellany

Bellany was born in the fishing village of Port Seton, near Edinburgh. He studied at Edinburgh College of Art and at the Royal College of Art, London. His work of the 1960s and 1970s dealt with original sin, guilt, sex and death. His characteristic paintings are large compositions featuring his own personal symbolism, often derived from the sea and from religion, two elements that dominated his childhood. The flawed nature of humanity was usually central to his paintings. Bellany became seriously ill in the 1980s and underwent a liver transplant operation in 1988, after which his work became more optimistic in mood.

Related products