Many fans of artworks by Scottish artist John Bellany are familiar with the teals, blues and oranges in his colour palette, the distinct yellow skin and reddish noses of his portraits and the ever-popular women with fish on their heads; these characteristics are common throughout much of his oeuvre, and remain popular with collectors and fans of the artist. These aspects of his art often make up a majority of the pictures by Bellany on the art market at any given moment, which makes lot 604 in this October’s Scottish Contemporary Art Auction something special. Although there are pictures one may consider a ‘classic’ Bellany among the lots—in fact there are 7 in October’s sale—lot 604 stands out.
‘The Portrait of Juliet and David’, a large oil on board measuring 154cm x 92cm, dates to 1976, fairly early into the artist’s career. The portrait depicts Juliet Lister, who married Bellany 3 years later in 1979, and her son David, who remembers sitting for the portrait. This intimate portrait of the artist’s second wife and her child is different from the pictures that we have come to know as ‘classic’ Bellany’s, not just in its personal nature, though the artist’s unique style is evident throughout, in the more subdued version of his distinct colour palette and the treatments of faces and figures, among other clues.
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