John Bellany, R.A. 1942 - 2013
Self-portrait of John Bellany, R.A.
Photo: R.A./John Hammond
© The Artist's Estate
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Self-portrait of John Bellany, R.A., 1966
Oil on board, 1210 X 910 X 24 mm
Bequeathed by Carel Weight, R.A., 1999
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Two great forces have influenced and preoccupied Bellany throughout his life. The first is the sea, and the second is religion. Being born into a family of fishermen and boat builders and brought up as a strict Calvinist in the village of Port Seton, near Edinburgh have both had a profound effect on Bellany's art, not only in terms of subject matter but also as a constant reminder of the frailty of human existence. This early self-portrait, which dates from Bellany's student days at the Royal College of Art, already includes references to these two great preoccupations of his life, namely in the distant seagulls circling behind his head and the crucifix hanging around his neck. Carel Weight, who owned this portrait, was head of the Painting School at the Royal College of Art at the time Bellany was a student there.

This work is currently on display in the General Assembly Room at the Royal Academy of Arts and can be viewed by attending one of the free tours of the John Madejski Fine Rooms. Click here for further information about the tours