Jack Vettriano : A Life, Hardback
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


In December 2003 the painter Jack Vettriano, a coalminer's son, met his parents off the train from Scotland on his way to collect an OBE.

Over the last few years Vettriano has had a meteoric rise to fame - emerging from the unlikely background of the Scottish coalfields, unknown and untutored, he has become Scotland's most successful and controversial contemporary artist.

Appearing on posters and cards, mugs and umbrellas, prints of his work outsell Van Gogh, Dali and Monet and his paintings have been acquired by celebrities around the world. 'The Singing Butler', Britain's most reproduced painting, fetched a record GBP744,800 at auction in April 2004.

Vettriano's images have an often mysterious narrative and are a gateway to an alluring yet sinister world.

Daylight scenes of heady optimism, painted against backdrops of beaches and racetracks, are counterbalanced by more disquieting canvases of complex night-time liaisons in bars and clubs, bedrooms and ballrooms.

Both sexes are clearly styled - the men hard-edged and mysterious, the women seductive and enigmatic. Yet beneath the confident posturing, Vettriano recognizes our inherent human frailty, that there is no victor in the struggle between duplicity and desire.

Men and women are ultimately trapped by the machinations of intense love and passion with little control over their destiny. 'Jack Vettriano' presents about thirty new images, as well as some recently surfaced works, plus the best of the paintings previously published in 'Lovers and Other Strangers' and 'Fallen Angels', also by Pavilion.

In March 2004 Melvin Bragg's The South Bank Show broadcast a programme dedicated to Jack entitled Jack Vettriano: The People's Painter.

Reissued in smaller user-friendly format.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 192 pages, 100 colour illustrations
  • Publisher: Pavilion Books
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Art & design styles: from c 1960
  • ISBN: 9781862056466



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The introduction and subsequent text is very brief, and provides a glimpse into the artist’s background and rise to success. The text makes little if any critical comment about the artist’s work, perhaps leaving the paintings to speak for themselves. The book concludes with a list of the artist’s paintings and exhibitions. The book really is all about the pictures. There are about 160 full colour reproductions of Vettriano’s paintings of which about half dozen are small images illustrating the text, there are over thirty full page bleed pictures many of which in fact amount to a page and a half and include one double page spread (the best in the book?). However the bulk of the illustrations range from almost full page images to those which occupy about half a page or occasionally less. The quality of the reproduction is excellent, and the varied and attractive layout suits the images well, bold yet without detracting from the work. For those of us who are perhaps used to seeing Vettriano’s paintings merely as small reproductions adorning cards and the like, it is a revelation to see them produced so well and to a good size. Seeing them so it is easy to label his technique as commercial and slick; but there is no denying the immediate appeal and impact. Whether or not you are a fan of this Scottish artist this is a book worth having, it shows the range of his work, from the dark and sensual to some very appealing high key paintings. Altogether it is a most sumptuous volume.

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