17th November 1951

Painter Jack Vettriano is born in St Andrews

St Andrews-born Jack Hogan is better known as Jack Vettriano, under which name he painted one of the best-recognised and most-reproduced pictures in Britain. Depicting a couple dancing on wet sand, while being sheltered from the rain by a butler and a maid, The Singing Butler sold for a record £744,800 at auction in 2004 – the highest price paid for a painting in Scotland – and became the best-selling art print in the United Kingdom.

Auctioneers stunned

The Singing Butler had been expected to sell for “up to £200,000”, according to a 20 April 2004 report on the BBC News website. At an auction in August of the previous year, it had sold for just £90,000.

However, it went for far more than the estimate. “Auctioneers were left stunned when it sold to a mystery phone bidder,” reported the broadcaster. It continued, “Vettriano is acknowledged to be the UK’s most popular artist. His prints sell more than those by old masters such as Monet and Van Gogh, and his distinctive paintings are often reproduced on posters and postcards. However, he has long felt snubbed by the arts establishment and Britain’s leading art galleries have never displayed his work.”

Mining, engineering, painting

After leaving school, Vettriano had initially found work at a colliery, and then as an engineer. However, as a profile in The Guardian of 27 July 2002 explained, he met a primary school teacher when in his early 20s, who encouraged him to enrol at Kirkcaldy technical college and, “For my 21st birthday she gave me a box of watercolours and when I tried it I really enjoyed it. I would paint a couple of nights a week. I had so many fights with my parents because of the smell of turps coming out of the room and they would go mental when I made up still lives and left them until the fruit went all rotten. I had no idea what I wanted to paint and no confidence.”



Other events that occured in November

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